Honda said they are prepared to reunite with Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso after announcing a deal to supply the team’s engines from 2026.
The Japanese engine manufacturer said they won’t influence Aston Martin’s choice of drivers once the two join forces.
Alonso caused embarrassment at Honda when he criticised their engines on home ground during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix, when he raced for them and McLaren. His description of their power unit as being a “GP2 engine” – referring to F1’s leading junior series at the time – quickly gained notoriety.
The two-times world champion joined Aston Martin this season on a multi-year contract. The 41-year-old has enjoyed his most successful start to a campaign in 16 years, taking four podiums from the first five grands prix, and has indicated he intends to continue racing.
Alonso lambasted Honda’s “GP2 engine” as he fought in midfield That could lead to a reunion between Alonso and Honda in 2026. Yesterday Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe said the manufacturer will not influence the team’s choice of drivers and is not opposed to joining forces with Alonso again.
“The selection of the drivers of the race is fully up to the team members and not something that a power unit supplier like us is supposed to be making,” said Watanabe in response to a question from RaceFans. “So we will be leaving up the driver selections to the team.”
Alonso raced with Honda power for three years before McLaren cut short their association with the manufacturer. Watanabe credits the driver’s contributions during that time for helping Honda be “able to win the world championship” with Red Bull in 2021.
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“I believe he is such a grand, respectable driver,” Watanabe said. “If we are to have Alonso again as our driver, we have no objections whatsoever in him driving.”
Alonso has four podiums but Honda power has won every race Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh brushed off “some comments that were made, probably in the heat of battle once, which were quite memorable I suppose for some,” and aid he had told Alonso of the team’s engine plans. He believes his driver “understands and respects what Honda are doing” and the progress they have made since they last worked together.
“Clearly Fernando’s doing a great job in the team, I’m delighted to have him as part of our team and he’s making a great contribution both on and off the track,” said Whitmarsh. “Obviously I spoke to Fernando a little while ago about the direction that we intended to go. He is a very intelligent individual.”
However Whitmarsh does not believe Alonso has considered his career plans as far as 2026 yet. “If he’s as fit and as competitive as he is today, then it would be fantastic to have him in the car in 2026”, he said, adding it is “probably outside his planning horizon” at the moment.
During F1’s current V6 hybrid turbo engine era, Honda has supplied McLaren and Red Bull’s two teams. Those partnerships did extend to signing and supporting drivers.
Honda juniors were incorporated into McLaren and Red Bull’s driver development programmes as well as members of those being sent to race for Honda-powered teams in Japan’s Super Formula series. Joint Red Bull and Honda junior Yuki Tsunoda has also spent the last three years racing for AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister team in F1.
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