Honda, which withdrew as an official engine manufacturer at the end of 2021, has announced a works partnership with Aston Martin from 2026 onwards, marking a return to Formula One (F1). With F1 aiming for more sustainable future engine regulations, Honda has been lured back to the sport due to the increased electrification and switch to sustainable fuels. Honda continued building engines for Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri under the Honda Racing Corporation moniker but had soft-exited F1. However, HRC chief Koji Watanabe is confident the team can compete with rivals by 2026.
Honda struggled in its last F1 entry in 2015 when it became McLaren’s works partner. At the time, it faced difficulties in power and reliability, as it struggled with the complicated MGU-H system that will be removed for 2026. After leaving F1, Honda’s development staff worked on “carbon neutral projects.” However, under the HRC name seen on the Red Bull cars, it conducted case studies on F1‘s new engine direction, which ultimately led to the team’s decision to re-join as a fully-fledged manufacturer. Honda has kept its foot in the door, with its development staff allocated to carbon-neutral projects but has also been engaging in studies and development of four-wheel technologies through its dedicated company, Honda Racing Corporation. Honda’s exit from F1 since 2021 has minimized the loss of development time as the company keeps developing for the four-wheel technology.