Aston Martin has been on a charge up the grid in Formula 1 in recent years, with this year's performance shocking pundits and fans alike. It looks to build further on that success into the future as it partners with Honda as a power unit supplier from 2026 onwards.
"Honda decided on a works partnership with Aston Martin starting in 2026," HRC President Koji Watanabe told The Drive via a live press conference from Tokyo. "This decision was made largely in pursuit of Honda's goal of carbon neutrality, as the 2026 F1 regulations will demand the usage of electric power and other [sustainable sources] more than three times than the current regulations."
The two companies will be partnering up as F1's new engine regulations come into force. That season will see power trains with a 50/50 ratio between electric motor and ICE power output. This will be in part achieved by massively increasing the output of the kinetic energy recovery system used on F1 cars, while the complicated MGU-H heat energy recovery system will be abandoned. The new engines will also run on 100% sustainable fuel, according to F1.
As for the team structure, it's set to be a fairly conventional arrangement between a team and an engine supplier. "In this project, HRC will design, develop, and manufacture the power unit and supply it to Aston. Aston will design, develop, and manufacture the chassis and other components," stated Watanabe.
Aston Martin has emerged in 2023 as a contender at the top of the grid, albeit still behind Red Bull. This success likely went a long way toward the two companies closing the deal. The team, formerly known as Racing Point, and before that Force India, has scored five wins in various incarnations over the years. However, it hasn't run so consistently at the front since the 1999 season it raced under the Jordan banner.
"We are building a team to win F1 championships," said Martin Whitmarsh, Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, adding "We're still early in that part, but we're headed in the right direction. We're certainly recruiting the right people and investing significantly to be successful in Formula 1. The opportunity to partner with a global motorsport titan like Honda is a very important step forward for this team." On Honda's side, the enthusiasm is clear, too. "It's a team with a lot of momentum as well as a new factory and hungry to win its first championship title," said Watanabe.
Honda has had a weird time in F1 in the 21st century. It dropped out of the series in 2008, only for the car it had developed to win a championship under the Brawn name the next year. It then returned for several awful years with McLaren, before switching to work with Red Bull and Alpha Tauri. In October 2020, it announced it would quit the sport after 2021, only for Max Verstappen to claim the championship that year. Now, they're hanging around in a weird limbo where Red Bull has been putting together their own engine shop but Honda is still largely involved.
Honda will leave its old engine IP behind when the new regulations kick in in 2026. By virtue of hanging around in F1 far beyond its original exit plan, it's stayed sharp and become a championship-winning engine supplier. It will hope to continue that success into the new era, and Aston Martin will be every bit as keen.
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