Honda F1 2026 engine looks likely with Aston Martin
Honda is expected to have a new Formula 1 engine project in 2026 in partnership with the Aston Martin team.
The Japanese manufacturer officially left F1 at the end of 2021 but is still a partner to Red Bull’s two F1 teams and will supply them with engines until the end of 2025.
Honda has effectively taken steps to partially reverse its withdrawal, targeting a full “return” to F1 in 2026 under the new engine regulations.
It expressed its interest in the new rules at the end of last year at the FIA and had suggestions for a works contract from several teams.
Any new Honda project was guaranteed to need a new partner if it turned out Red Bull would be working with Ford on a new in-house F1 engine for 2026.
Multiple sources have told The Race that Honda will commit to the new rules after all, with Aston Martin – currently a customer of Mercedes engines – traded as a partner.
HONDA’s turnaround is almost complete
Honda needed a new partner because the events that set it in motion by deciding to leave F1 altogether led to Red Bull taking a very different path.
Back in 2020, Honda’s then-CEO Takahiro Hachigo announced he would officially leave F1 at the end of 2021 to prioritize zero-emissions technology for its automotive division, which had fallen behind its rivals.
However, this coincided with the acceleration of the Red Bull-Honda partnership and they won the World Drivers’ Championship together in 2021.
At the same time, Red Bull and Honda agreed that Honda will continue to supply engines until the end of 2025, but on a smaller scale.
It was becoming clear that Honda, which had a CEO change to Toshihiro Mibe in April 2021, is reconsidering its decision to leave Formula 1 – and its success with Red Bull continued in 2022, winning both world championships.
Honda continued to be represented at the technical committee meetings on the 2026 engine regulations and had a small group working on these regulations as well.
F1’s sustainable fuel rules and increased electric performance – with a stronger MGU-K more than offsetting the drop in MGU-H – seemed to give Honda an argument that such a project was consistent with its broader corporate goals.
Although there is conflicting information as to whether Honda’s board of directors has made its final decision, it is now becoming increasingly likely that a 2026 project will soon be approved.
Red Bull and Honda were in talks to continue their partnership for 2026 when it became clear that Honda was interested in their formal return.
But despite their excellent and ongoing relationship, the formation of Red Bull Powertrains fundamentally changed the terms to which any deal would be subject.
It was formed in anticipation of Honda’s full withdrawal to finally give Red Bull control of its engine supply after having been dependent on manufacturers for its entire existence.
Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri will use Red Bull Ford branded engines from 2026, as the American manufacturer has been enticed into a mainly commercial partnership with some technical contributions.
That deal picked up steam in late 2022, leaving Honda to discuss with alternative parties. McLaren and Williams have both been linked and McLaren has been in touch over the winter.
However, it is expected that it will be Aston Martin that Honda is partnering with.
Aston Martin has expressed an interest in factory engine supply and has even tentatively explored its own Red Bull Powertrains-style powerplant.
When it turned out that this was not feasible, Aston Martin considered its alternatives. And Honda was the only route to a factory engine shop.
2026 ENGINE MANUFACTURERS (AND FACTORY TEAMS)
Red Bull Ford (Red Bull)
Honda (Aston Martin – TBD)
Every other manufacturer signing up for 2026 has their own team in mind, and while General Motors is snooping around as a potential future entrant, that would be with a factory entry as well.
A Honda deal would reunite “Team Silverstone” with the manufacturer it was last associated with in the early 2000s, having also enjoyed Jordan’s peak years of 1998 and 1999 with Mugen-Honda power.
There’s also a Honda connection at the helm of the team’s modern incarnation in the form of Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh.
He brokered the deal for McLaren and Honda to work together from 2015 and left McLaren before that partnership fell apart, so his relationship is almost certainly still intact.
Whether the same will apply to current Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso, who spent the entire ill-fated three-year tenure at McLaren, is unclear.
Alonso has greatly angered Honda with his constant criticism, primarily referring to his product as a “GP2 engine” at Honda’s home race in Japan in 2015.
But Alonso, who is 41, may not be driving for Aston Martin in 2026 anyway.