Formula One

Aston Martin and Honda together from 2026 – A big step for Aston Martin and a new chapter in Honda’s turbulent F1 history

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Honda have officially announced their partnership with Aston Martin from 2026 onwards, as a works engine supplier for the Silverstone-based team.

It is a huge step for Aston Martin, as it will step away from its partnership with Mercedes and become a works team for the first time. The engine supply deal with the German manufacturer dates all the way back to 2009, when the team was known as Force India. It continued through two engine formulas, the V8 and the V6 Turbo Hybrid, the latter commencing in 2014, as well as three team names: Force India, Racing Point and Aston Martin. The collaboration proved fruitful, earning the squad its first win in 2020 at the Sakhir Grand Prix with Sergio Perez, as well as seventeen podiums.

The deal has been described as long-term and exclusive, meaning that Aston Martin will become an independent and factory-backed team. The engine supply will start in 2026, when Honda’s involvement in the Red Bull engine program concludes and new engine regulations will be applied. While the V6 Turbo Hybrid will remain, the MGU-H components will be removed from the cars, but the MGU-K units will produce three times as much electrical energy as current F1 engines do.

Until then, Aston Martin cars will be powered by Mercedes. In the meantime, Honda will continue its partnership with Red Bull, offering technical support until 2025. The Austrian team will switch to Ford engines, starting in 2026.

On the drivers’ front, nothing is concrete at the moment. Fernando Alonso is under contract until 2024 at least and Honda representatives claim that the company has no issue in working with the Spaniard again, despite some negative remarks from him when the two sides worked together at McLaren, although he will be 44 years old in 2026. Honda is known to promote Japanese talent via the teams it works with, but this will not be forced in this case.

Honda’s F1 history

Honda has had quite a complicated and turbulent history in Formula 1. Its first foray into the sport came in the 1960s, with a factory team. It debuted in 1964 and won in the next season, with Richie Ginther in Mexico. In 1967, it secured the services of -World Champion- John Surtees, who gave the team its second victory. However, the next year was Honda’s last in terms of that effort, partly because of disappointing results and partly because of Jo Schlesser’s death behind the wheel of Honda’s radical RA302 in the French Grand Prix.

The brand would return fifteen years later, in 1983, with an engine supply to the newly-formed Spirit team and Williams. The latter wrote history with the Japanese V6 Turbo engines, claiming 23 wins and two constructors’ championships in 1986 and 1987, with Nelson Piquet claiming a title as well in the second year. From 1987, Honda also supplied engines to Lotus, starting an iconic partnership with Ayrton Senna, which carried over when the Brazilian moved to McLaren the next season. Senna claimed three championships and Alain Prost took another, ensuring that McLaren-Honda secured both titles in the first four seasons of their collaboration. Citing financial reasons, the Japanese engine manufacturer stepped away in 1992, after five years and 44 wins with McLaren.

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Although the Honda name left the sport, the company stayed involved in the sport, through its related partner, Mugen, who supplied various teams with engines from 1993 to 2000, with four victories coming along the way. The most notable season was 1999, when Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jordan challenged for the championship but came up short in the end.

That year was also the year Honda planned to return to the sport officially with its own team, but that effort was abandoned. Instead, the company elected to return as an engine manufacturer only, supplying BAR, as well as Jordan for a couple of seasons. However, it was the initial partnership where Honda would invest in. After a very successful 2004 season, with the BAR-Honda car being the second best on the grid and claiming several podium finishes, Honda bought the team entirely and became the sole owner of an F1 squad for the first time since 1968.

In its first season, Honda had one of its most iconic F1 moments. In a wet Hungarian Grand Prix, Jenson Button ended a very long wait for both his team and himself by claiming a much-anticipated victory. However, what was expected to be the start of Honda’s rise, proved to be an outlier. Over the next two seasons the team only scored points on seven occasions and, with the global economic crisis looming, the marque left the sport. Its assets were sold at the last minute to Ross Brawn, who formed Brawn GP. This team went on to shock F1 and claim both championships in its debut season in 2009, in a car that was vastly developed by Honda and was eventually powered by Mercedes.

Just a few years later, in 2013, Honda announced its return to the sport as an engine supplier, when it announced its reunion with McLaren from 2015 onwards. The McLaren-Honda project was hyped a lot, but it ended in ultimate disappointment. Despite attracting Fernando Alonso, next to Jenson Button, the team underachieved massively, following three seasons of poor performances and constant mechanical failures. Ultimately, the two sides came to a head and the relationship broke apart.

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Honda stayed in the sport thanks to a partnership with Toro Rosso and the potential to supply Red Bull in the future. That’s where the resurrection happened. Following a competitive 2018 season with Toro Rosso, Red Bull decided to join forces with the Japanese manufacturer and become its factory outfit. Wins came very soon, but in October 2020 Honda announced it would leave F1 following the 2021 season. And it was in that season when it returned to championship-winning form, when Max Verstappen took the drivers’ title. Despite its intention to leave, Honda kept working with Red Bull as it produced its own powertrains, claiming a dominant double in 2022 and is on its way to another this season.

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