With Audi coming to F1, Red Bull building its own engine and Ferrari and Mercedes both supplying their works teams and others, the question was, where will Honda go now that it has reversed its decision to leave F1?
The short answer is, Aston Martin starting in 2026. The long answer is, it’s complicated.
In the end, Aston Martin (AM) have been beating Mercedes, it’s engine supply partner, and one might wonder why they would make the switch to Honda given their current competitive pace.
The most basic element at play here is having your own engine partner and operating like a works team. That’s why Aston Martin’s announcement by Martin Whitmarsh makes sense because he did the same thing when he was at McLaren and brought Honda in after Mercedes parted ways with the team.
If Alfa Romeo built a car that started beating Ferrari, their engine supplier, there would be a lot of friction in that relationship. A conflict of interests so to speak. Why Aston Martin would go with Honda in order to have their own engine partner makes a lot of sense from an F1 standpoint but it does raise a question about the car company’s road cars that use Mercedes engines. That makes less sense as to why they would leave Mercedes engines in favor of Honda’s engine.
That perhaps rests in the decision matrix for Mercedes. Are they happy to have AM leave their engine program in F1 because they are currently beating their works team or are they fine with that reality and would prefer to have the Mercedes badge on AM’s current success instead of Hondas. If so, would they walk away from supplying AM with engines for their road cars? My hunch is no, business in the road car world is different. They still supply McLaren with engines for their road cars.
The bigger question I have is how AM will work with Honda. At the time that McLaren starting publishing comments about cultures etc, the writing was on the wall and I suggested then that Red Bull should take Honda and work with them since they were losing Renault. I argued that Red Bull’s culture was quite a bit different than that of the Ron Dennis ran McLaren. I felt Red Bull would succeed and they did with two titles.
By the time Zak Brown took over McLaren, I think the relationship was strained beyond healthy and had he been there from the beginning, it may have ended differently. That’s just a guess on my part.
Now, AM has a staunch character leading it’s program in Lawrence Stroll. Very much in the fabric of Ron Dennis and the Japanese may not be as jazzed about that style. We will have to watch closely to see if we start getting “company culture difference” speeches from AM int eh future.
Here is the Press Release:
Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman, AMF1 Team, said:
“I would like to welcome Honda and Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One® Team. We share a mutual drive, determination, and relentless ambition to succeed on track.
“Honda is a global titan and its success in motorsport is longstanding and incredibly impressive. I would like to thank Mr Mibe and Mr Watanabe, and the whole team at HRC as we embark on this exciting future together from 2026.”
Toshihiro Mibe, Global CEO, Honda, said:
“One of the key reasons for our decision to take up the new challenge in F1 is that the world’s pinnacle form of racing is striving to become a sustainable racing series, which is in line with the direction Honda is aiming toward carbon neutrality, and it will become a platform which will facilitate the development of our electrification technologies.
“Honda is a company that has a history of growing by taking on challenges and winning world-class races. With the new 2026 regulations, the key for winning will be a compact, lightweight, and high-power electric motor with a high-performance battery capable of handling high and swift power output, as well as the energy management technology.
“We believe that the technologies and know-how gained from this new challenge can potentially be applied directly to our future mass production electric vehicles, such as an electric flagship sports model, and electrification technologies in various areas, including eVTOL which is currently under research and development.
“Honda and our new partner, the Aston Martin F1 Team, share the same sincere attitude and determination to win, so starting with the 2026 season, we will work together and strive for the Championship title as Aston Martin Aramco Honda.
“Honda has the utmost respect for the FIA, which made a bold decision to introduce these new and challenging regulations to ensure the sustainability of both racing activities and the global environment, and for the Formula One Group, which has been enhancing the brand value of F1 and ensuring F1’s evolvement as the most prestigious automobile racing in the world.”
I am under assumption this deal for Honda power in Aston-Martin F1 team only applies to the team and not the road cars operation.
Correct, just the team. I am curious if it would have any impact on the road car engine supply relationship. I doubt it will but just curious.
Alonso – “GP2 engine”
We could hear that again if Fred is still around in 2026. :)
I’m confused. Isn’t the engine Red Bull is ‘making on its own’ the Honda engine? Is Honda making 2 engines?
Red Bull is buying parts from Honda for the existing engine while they are working hard to create their own engine for 2026. They have a relationship with Honda to continue to work with the team on parts etc to maintain their current engine program which is being managed internally. At least that’s my understanding but I’m sure there are more details than that.
Yeah its all confusing to me because i thought RBR were reluctant to go their own way n only did bc Honda were pulling out so it just seems like if Honda changed their mind RBR would be the perfect place to return to since theyre already half there. Like they’re going to compete with their own engineering path by starting over, while RBR loses their support. That seems like a perfect way for both these engine programs to turn out poorly.
OK now I read the reason is that when it looked like Honda were leaving Red Bull formed a partnership with Ford to support the engines so they’re off the table. So Honda might be facing their own engine. Weird.
You should have titled the article, “The Return of the Bad Boyfriend” ~X8