McLaren Might Partner With Honda in F1 Again: Report

After its rough breakup in 2017, McLaren and Honda have apparently made initial contact over a 2026 engine deal.

byChris Rosales|
F1 photo


The phrase “nothing is impossible” has been taken to new, stratospheric heights: McLaren and Honda are in the earliest stages of forging a possible engine partnership for 2026. This comes after its unbelievably rough stint together as McLaren-Honda from 2015 to 2017 that resulted in McLaren’s worst seasons for a long time and Honda’s broken reputation as an engine manufacturer.

According to The Race, initial contact has been made between the two former technical partners to possibly strike up an engine deal for 2026. It’s in its very earliest stages with no real formal talks, but both are exploring their options every team on the grid is seeking the best possible match for the upcoming 2026 ruleset devoid of the costly MGU-H. 

The McLaren MP4-30 with an engine failure during a practice session of the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix. Getty

There are interesting politics here, with the previous McLaren-Honda partnership ending as badly as anything, while its ‘80s and ‘90s partnership with Ayrton Senna was the stuff of legends. 2017 was a difficult time for McLaren, with the team swamped internally with infighting that led to the ousting of Ron Dennis, who was instrumental to the success of the team in the ‘80s and ‘90s. McLaren also took the position of blaming Honda for its performance deficit in the early days of the V6 turbo-hybrid era. Though Honda was unreliable and underpowered back then, McLaren learned the hard way that the Honda power unit was not their only problem after a switch to Renault. 

Only in the last couple of seasons have both companies recovered their reputation in F1, with McLaren recovering to the top of the midfield and Honda winning two world titles with their Red Bull partnership and arguably having the best power unit on the grid. McLaren is currently purchasing customer power units from Mercedes with no direct branding on its cars or team apparel, while Honda is still assembling and supporting the current Red Bull Powertrains power unit while RBPT and Ford gear up for 2026. 

While this may just be a bit of searching from both companies, it still presents an interesting opportunity for a reformed McLaren and a competitive Honda to try and finally form a competitive package. Only time will tell if the previous partnership was poisonous enough to prevent the two from ever working together again.

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