breaking news


today is May 30, 2023

Honda has confirmed it will return to Formula 1 in 2026 as power unit manufacturer, supplying engines to current Mercedes customer Aston Martin.

Although Honda officially left F1 at the end of 2021 and ended development for the current 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 formula after winning the world championship with Red Bull that year, it still manufacturers parts for Red Bull and AlphaTauri whose powertrains are labelled as ‘Honda RBPT’.

In February the FIA confirmed Honda was one of six power unit manufacturers which had signed up to supply motors under the incoming rules. But with Red Bull forming a new alliance with Ford when the revised regulations arrive, Honda needed a new chassis partner to avoid being left out.

Honda’s Global CEO Toshihiro Mibe confirmed the brand’s decision to team up with Aston Martin at a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. He said the changes ushered in through the new regulations were behind its decision to recommit to F1.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021 Honda powered Verstappen to his 2021 title win “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,” said Mibe.

F1 will mandate the use of carbon-neutral fuel from 2026 and engine efficiency will need to increase so no more than 70kg of petrol is consumed in a race – a reduction from the current maximum of 110kg. The energy deployment capability of the MGU-K will increase from 120kW to 350kW, while the MGU-H is being dropped. A cost cap for power unit providers will also be introduced.

“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,” Mibe continued. “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.”

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Aston Martin “share the same sincere attitude and determination to win” as Honda, said Mibe.

“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,” he added.

Aston Martin made a leap forward at the start of 2023 The Silverstone-based Aston Martin team is currently enjoying their most successful season since 1999, when they were known as Jordan, having taken four podium finishes from the first five grands prix. They lie second in the constructors’ standings.

Aston Martin CEO Lawrence Stroll called the team’s tie-up with Honda “the final piece in the jigsaw to establish Aston Martin Formula 1 as a top team capable of winning world titles.”

“Combined with our new campus, we are giving the team all the tools it needs to win,” he said. “To establish Aston Martin Formula 1 at the top of the sport we need to exploit every single area of our technical package and now a bespoke PU is the most important last step in that journey.”

Aston Martin Performance Technologies Group CEO Aston Martin – who worked with Honda at McLaren in the eighties and nineties, then helped bring about their previous return in 2015 – said the development was an important step for the team.

“Over the last 18 months I think we’ve been recruiting the right people, we’ve been investing in the required facilities and developing the right culture and processes to win,” Whitmarsh told media including RaceFans yesterday.

“We know, however, that we need strong partnerships, and we’ve been previously delighted to have been joined by both [IT firm] Cognizant and [fuel supplier] Aramco on this mission. But I think today in particular, it’s a great opportunity to partner a global motorsport titan like Honda as a works team. This is an extremely exciting and important further step for the team.”

Whitmarsh believes F1’s new 2026 regulations will increase the importance of integration between chassis and power unit, making a works engine supply crucial to their future success.

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“We’re very proud, very honoured, very grateful to put in place this partnership,” he continued. “It’s clear to us and I think to Honda that the 2026 F1 regulations will require the sort of full integration of chassis and PU that only a full works team relationship delivers,” added Whitmarsh.

2026 F1 entries

Chassis Engine Red Bull Red Bull-Ford Ferrari Ferrari Mercedes Mercedes Alpine Renault McLaren Mercedes Sauber Audi Aston Martin Honda Haas Ferrari AlphaTauri Red Bull-Ford Williams Mercedes

“So to have this partnership puts us in a position to compete for championships. I think it’s very clear from everything that we’ve seen of Honda in the past, from our recent learnings from being in conversation over the last few weeks, they have a huge passion, they’re racers, they want to win.”

Honda engines have started more races in F1 than those of any manufacturer bar Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Ford up until the end of its last period as a manufacturer in 2021. It won races as a full works team in the sixties, then dominated F1 as an engine supplier to Williams and McLaren in the eighties and nineties. Its return with a factory team in the noughties was less successful – although it won one race, the team slumped soon afterwards and was sold on at the end of 2008. Seven years later, Honda returned as an engine supplier once more.

Whitmarsh said Aston Martin have “got a lot to learn from Honda, who have been successful over many, many decades in the sport. But I think we’re already confident this is going to be a fantastic partnership for the future. So we look forward to it.”

Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe said the manufacturer is relishing the prospect of going up against five of its rivals in F1. “We believe that the technology and knowhow gained from this new challenge has the potential to be applied directly to our future mass production electric vehicles,” he said.

“Also, F1 is introducing a cost cap structure on power unit development, which will make a long-term and continuous participation in F1 easier. In fact, starting in the 2026 season, various automakers are planning to enter F1, which we expect will further intensify the competition.”

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