The week leading up to the Monaco Grand Prix opened with the news of the agreement between Honda and Aston Martin for the supply of Power Units starting from 2026. A collaboration that effectively brings the Japanese manufacturer’s brand back to Formula 1 as an official partner, although, in reality, Honda’s presence in the championship is currently ensured by the partnership with Red Bull.
From 2019 to 2021, in fact, the Japanese engineer supplied the engines to the Milton Keynes team, at least until the official withdrawal which took place a year and a half ago. Subsequently, Honda has indeed provided its support to Red Bull, but behind the scenes, so much so that Red Bull itself had begun to plan for the future by creating the Powertrains division, which will take care of the new Power Unit for 2026 in collaboration with Ford .
Max Verstappen, who won the 2021 and 2022 drivers’ championships with Honda and also contributed to the conquest of the constructors’ title last season, said seeing the Japanese company sign with Aston Martin was a shame.
Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Toyoharu Tanabe, F1 Technical Director, Honda, Masashi Yamamoto, General Manager, Honda Motorsport, and the Red Bull Honda team celebrate victory
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Christian Horner’s comments were also added to the Dutchman’s comments, who explained that if Red Bull had known that Honda intended to return in 2026, it would never have embarked on its own program for the creation of Power Units. Undoubtedly, building the engine yourself brings advantages in terms of integration between the chassis and the Power Unit, but this objective could also be achieved by signing an exclusive agreement with a manufacturer, just as will happen between Honda and Aston Martin.
“Well, it’s certainly an expensive decision!” Horner explained to Motorsport.com.
“For Red Bull’s perspectives, we are no longer customers. For us to have the Power Unit built in our factories, fully integrated with the chassis and the synergies that are created with the chassis and engine engineers next to each other, for a long time term, it brings significant benefits. But we wouldn’t have made this leap if it weren’t for the withdrawal of Honda.”
Horner added that Red Bull should be “grateful” to Honda for dropping out of F1, as it has created more jobs in Milton Keynes, easing the restrictions imposed by the cost cap implemented in 2021: “In many respects, we should be grateful to them for giving us the push to create our engine department”.
“The jobs it has created and provided and of course the (commercial 2026) partnership we have with Ford is particularly exciting for the future and for the commitment of Red Bull and shareholders to the project. We would have taken the same decision knowing what Honda’s decision is today?
Jim Farley, CEO di Ford, Mark Rushbrook, direttore del team Ford e Red Bull Racing Christian Horner
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
“But we’ve taken it and committed to it and as the path we’ve taken has evolved, the long-term benefits for the group have increased,” added the Red Bull Team Principal.
At the end of 2022, Red Bull and Honda resumed talks for a possible collaboration for the new 2026 engines, which provide for the abandonment of the MGU-H: the team had also reached an agreement in principle with Porsche, but the The deal fell through when the German company stepped forward to be more than just a supplier, acquiring shares in the teams.
Discussions focused mainly on the hybrid components of the engine, as Honda originally left F1 to devote resources and funding to the electrification of its line of road cars. However, Horner cited “probably too many compromises on both sides” as the cause for the breakdown of the talks, before Red Bull used the RB19 launch in New York to publicly disclose its partnership with Ford.