Honda Has ‘No Objections’ to Reunion With Alonso at Aston Martin
It appears the two racing giants have buried the hatchet in the face of a possible prosperous future together.
Honda announced Tuesday evening that it was signing on as the official engine supplier for the Aston Martin Formula 1 team starting in 2026. The move comes as a big surprise for many reasons, one of them being the team's star driver, Fernando Alonso. Alonso has had a... shall we say contentious relationship with the automaker following his very public airing of grievances during his 2015-2017 tenure at McLaren, where the Honda-powered cars were plagued with reliability problems. Now, in the face of a possible reunion, it appears both parties have resolved their differences.
President of Honda Racing Corporation Koji Watanabe confirmed to The Drive that Honda would not oppose having Alonso drive a Honda-powered Aston in the future, should the 41-year-old Spaniard stick around for another few years—which Alonso has said he plans to do.
"Yes, there were troubles in the past when we had difficulty, and we do recognize that Alonso is an outstanding driver," Watanabe told The Drive. "But as for Honda, we respect him and of course, it's up to the team to decide the drivers. Should he be selected we will not oppose."
The selection of drivers is up to the team to decide. So, if the team decides we’ll have Alonso as a driver again, we will have no objections whatsoever on him driving.
Alonso's relationship with McLaren at the time was, of course, very different than the one he enjoys with Aston today. For one, the team is competitive. Two, Alonso's had a few years to mature and reflect on what happened then. It'd be almost impossible to imagine Alonso referring to his Aston Martin as "embarrassing" or comparing it to a GP2 car.
And while he's since spoken about just how critical he was of Honda in the past—something that kept him from having a competitive car for his second attempt at the Indy 500—he's never technically apologized. His defense is that he said some things in the heat of the moment and via his onboard radio, and not directly to the media. Current Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies Martin Whitmarsh seems to empathize.
"I think this stems from something said in the heat of battle, which was regrettable," Whitmarsh told The Drive. "I've known him for many years and I was fortunate enough to re-sign him [back into McLaren]. He is a truly great driver, I think he's developed not only as a driver but in his thinking about being a team member since that time.
"I'm sure if he was driving with the same energy and commitment and kill and speed in 2026 we'd be delighted to have him on the team. However, 2026 is a few years away yet and we haven't decided on our driver lineup," Whitmarsh added. "I'm sure we'll have conversations with Fernando but that's a few years away. As a team, we've already discussed some of these issues.
"If he's driving as well as today, both Honda and Aston Martin would be delighted to have him on the team."
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