Honda will supply engines to Aston Martin's Formula 1 team for the 2026 season, and its former prime customer, Red Bull, is not happy about it. Team Principal Christian Horner has said that if it knew Honda was going to stay, it wouldn't have ever started Red Bull Powertrains, its in-house engine designer and manufacturer.
As Motorsport reports, both Horner and Red Bull's lead driver Max Verstappen expressed dismay at the announcement, even if having an in-house engine team has big advantages. Verstappen called Honda's partnership with Aston "a shame" with Horner going further to say that the team "wouldn't have made [the] jump" to set up its powertrains division had it known Honda was never going to withdraw.
To be fair, it seems like Honda itself wasn't sure whether or not it would remain in F1. The automaker has previously stated it planned to leave, however it lingered in the sport supporting Red Bull more or less in the background. Its final decision to remain likely came after it saw a clear advantage, financially or otherwise, to doing so. It's no secret that Aston Martin has deep pockets thanks to its owner Lawrence Stroll. Horner alluded to this, saying the move was "certainly an expensive decision."
Despite this expression of dissatisfaction, Red Bull is very committed to building its own engines, and doing so allegedly saved many team members' jobs. F1's cost caps mean several outfits have had to make staffing cuts, but since the Milton Keynes team now has a whole other division to fill, many designers and engineers were able to be transferred over to the engine side of the vehicle program.
So Red Bull is making a fuss, sure, but it really doesn't have much to complain about. It's spending money that, as the top dog in F1, it absolutely has to spend. It's inked a lucrative branding deal with Ford, a massive title sponsorship deal with Oracle, and more. Is It upset Honda is coming back? Yes, and the Japanese brand's indecision on staying in the sport is frustrating. But if it gets its engine running right, which is a big question mark for every team as the 2026 regulation change approaches, it will have a better footing than ever.
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