The Japanese car manufacturer has confirmed their commitment to the new engine specification and, along with Aston Martin CEO Lawrence Stroll, has announced a new arrangement to motorize Aston Martin Formula 1 vehicles beginning in 2026 and continuing into the future.
Honda made a major impact on the world in 2020 when they revealed that they would be departing the premier category of motorsport at the end of the 2021 season, in the midst of a season in which their hard work was finally paying off. Honda began supplying engines to Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team, in the 2018 season after three difficult years with McLaren. They made the transition to the main Red Bull Racing team in 2019, and in 2021, still under the Honda label, they crowned Max Verstappen World Drivers’ Champion.
This situation left Red Bull Racing and its subsidiary, now known as Scuderia AlphaTauri, in a very difficult position. They lacked a reliable engine supplier and were forced to develop their own: Red Bull PowerTrains. Because this project was still in jeopardy, they needed to reach an arrangement with Honda. The solution was simple: Honda allowed them to continue using its own engines, with Sakura engineers in charge of assembly and maintenance, but the Honda badges would no longer display on their vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Honda engine, under the name RBPT, continued to succeed in Formula 1, sweeping both titles in 2022. Along with a new change in leadership within the company and the announcement of a new engine regulation for the year 2026, the Japanese car manufacturer began working in the shadows to return under their own name in this new era.
The first step was to confirm to Formula 1 and the FIA that they had a certain interest in returning. Interested engine manufacturers had to make a declaration of intent to both entities before confirming their entry for this season, something the Japanese did quickly. Then came the trickiest part: negotiating with whom to return to without really having left.
Red Bull was the obvious pick. After all, their alliance remained intact, albeit in a different form. However, Honda’s unexpected exit and the challenges it left behind were too much for the Austrians. Thus, in early 2023, the energy drink company announced a partnership with another automobile giant: Ford. The engines would still be known as Red Bull PowerTrains, but with the addition of the “Ford” surname, which would handle the engine’s electric component.
With that, Honda needed to find a new dancing partner, and there were plenty of candidates. McLaren, their former partner from 2015 to 2017, was one of the first to negotiate. However, the relationship between the British and Japanese teams was badly strained during those years, and reaching an agreement was difficult given the team’s fall in performance. Then the Strolls showed up.
Lawrence Stroll is a true business entrepreneur who also has extensive knowledge of motorsport. After buying Force India in 2018, he took on a large part in Aston Martin and named his newly acquired squad after the winged brand. And now, Honda’s wing has joined Aston Martin’s: Aston Martin’s Formula 1 cars will use Japanese engines starting in 2026.
Thus, the Silverstone-based team got what they wanted: an exclusive engine supplier for their team, which has been one of the elements for success in Formula 1 in recent years. However, this comes with potential points of tension: Fernando Alonso is in the team. The Spanish driver had harsh words for Honda during his time at McLaren and is now part of Aston Martin. Given his age, it’s unlikely that he will still be with the team in 2026, but you never know what might happen. For now, we can only hope that Honda delivers a Formula 1 engine in 2026, or else they might have to hear the words “GP2 engine” once again.