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Honda factory return adds an intriguing fresh twist to Formula 1

Aston

Fresh intrigue around 2026 Aston Martin and the Honda factory Formula 1 Power Units emerge ahead of their ‘marriage’ in 2026.

Honda will return to full factory support for its Formula 1 effort from a new UK shop, when the engine supplier switches to powering Aston Marin from 2026.

The news comes in line with Formula 1’s switch to its all-new e-fuelled rules package for 2026 and includes the establishment of an all-new US-supported HRC-run full-factory power unit maintenance shop in England. Never mind another huge twist in the ongoing saga rolling out through Formula 1!

Honda officially withdrew from F1 late in 2021, only to reconsider when Max Verstappen drove his Red-Bull Honda to a shock World Drivers’ title that year. That prompted Honda to continue supply both Red Bull and the former Toro Rosso and Alpha Tauri team now known as RB, with engines via its Honda Racing Corporation subsidiary through to the end of the 2025 season.

“In May 2023, Honda and Aston Martin F1 jointly announced that they will enter into works partnership,” a HRC statement confirmed. “Honda will supply its F1 Power Units compliant with the new F1 regulations which will take effect in the 2026 season.

Aston

HRC UK will care for Aston Martin F1 Power Units

“Honda Racing Corporation UK is a new company founded to primarily perform post-race maintenance and preparation tasks on the Honda-built F1 power units. HRC UK will also operate as logistics operation for the European region. We will further enhance the effectiveness of Honda PU operations, in support of our partnership with the Aston Martin F1,” the statement concluded.

“A new corporate organisation has been established to carry out Formula 1 activities, which is very significant,” HRC president Koji Watanabe elaborated. “Of course, we have a budget that includes expenses for technological development with an eye to the future. “We will focus on sustainable carbon-neutral fuels, high-performance motors, batteries, and so on.”

“Until now, our activities have been projects, gathering people and money, disbanding when the project was over, and repeating. However, going forward, we will be responsible for all the racing company’s activities.”

Honda

Red Bull danced with Porsche, Honda, finally Ford

Faced with Honda’s initial exit, Red Bull initially pursued a dalliance with Porsche for its post-2025 engine supply. However, despite fresh overtures from Honda mid-2022, Red Bull went its own way and set up its own engine shop. Red Bull then signed Ford to decorate those new tappet covers, leaving both Honda and Porsche out in the cold.

The German carmaker’s F1 plot subsequently stalled. Honda however made a volte-face and linked up with Aston Martin for this rejuvenated factory effort. Aston Martin currently runs Mercedes power units. All of this comes ahead of the new rules, which will see e-fuelled Formula 1 also dumping its complicated Motor Generator Unit–Heat. The new units will now have a 50:50 power split between the existing turbo1.6-litre engine and an upgraded hybrid electric system.

Honda’s new power unit dispensation has now led HRC to set up its new UK company. Under Watanabe’s leadership, it will soon set the new factory up and start hiring staff. The UK operation will be supplemented by California-based HRC USA in line with F1’s five North American races. Staff transfers will also see the US arm working closer with its global partners.

Aston

More to it than just cars & Power Units

Honda’s new position however makes for another hugely interesting twist in the fluid situation currently surrounding Formula 1. Firstly, while now triple World Champion Max Verstappen may well be contracted to Red Bull to 2028, his deal is understood to be structured around the Dutchman’s need for stability within the team.

The recent shenanigans around team principal Horner seem to suggest discord in the Verstappen camp. Plausibly also connected to uncertainty around those all-new Ford-badged RB power units. Would Max be more inclined to stay put with the energy drink maker team? Or is he eyeing a longer-term relationship with Honda, something his childhood heroes also once appeared to prefer?

That is all happening alongside Lewis Hamilton’s shock and very early defection from Mercedes to Ferrari for 2025. That move is already set to prompt a major bout of Formula 1 musical chairs. Especially considering displaced free agent Carlos Sainz’ recent form and Hamilton’s seat already going begging at Mercedes.

However, through all that tumult and confusion, there seems one constant. Honda is now fully committed to even more factory Formula 1 success.

Big Question: Were you Max Verstappen, where would you hang your helmet?

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