A surprise name has entered the running to partner Honda come 2026, Aston Martin said to be the team that the Japanese manufacturer “wants” to join up with.
Honda have had an erratic return to Formula 1, winning the World title with Red Bull in 2021 only to withdrawn as their official engine supplier.
But they then did a U-turn, signing a one-year deal with Red Bull to support the Red Bull Powertrain division in powering the team and AlphaTauri for 2022, only to then extend that until 2025 with the teams effectively running rebadged Honda engines.
In the midst of Honda’s in or out, the company then went and signed up for Formula 1 2026, the year the new engine regulations come into effect, but Red Bull had already committed to Ford with Honda’s indecisiveness cited as the cause.
Now Aston Martin is being named as the Japanese manufacturer’s likely destination.
According to the Spanish edition of Motorsport.com, “we have been able to learn that the Japanese manufacturer wants to join Aston Martin which would mean, if he is still in the top flight that year, the reunion between Fernando Alonso and Honda.”
Honda’s options for 2026 are in short supply with Aston Martin, McLaren and Williams the only options – all three currently powered by Mercedes.
Honda, though, are only considering one team and “that is Aston Martin.”
The report added: “It is no mystery that the ambition of the team owner, Lawrence Stroll, is to take the team to competing for the World Championship, and the agreement with Mercedes, which has been vital for the growth of the structure, may be a limitation in the long term.”
The positives to Aston Martin-Honda
A current customer of Mercedes, Aston Martin may be ahead of the Brackley squad in the championship today but many pundits are already predicting it’s only a matter of time before Mercedes surge ahead.
Although F1’s regulations ban engine manufacturers from supplying different power units to their customers, there is still a disconnect with the customer team having to design their car around the engine. That’s the opposite for a works team where the engine is designed with the car in mind.
Inheriting too many parts from a rival team, the customer is often on the back foot as there’s also a delay in designing a car as they first have to see the engine layout, potentially also the gearbox and other parts.
This is said to be the cause of Aston Martin’s AMR23 diffuser issues as that’s not as effective as they’d wish it to be given that part of the car comes from Mercedes and are designed to work together with the W14’s slimmed down sidepods.
The negatives to Aston Martin-Honda
Aston Martin have close ties with Mercedes, who not only own shares in the Formula 1 team, but also supply parts other than the engine, most notably the gearbox and entire rear of the car.
In order to break away from Mercedes, the Silverstone-based team would need to design and build those parts themselves which comes at a cost.
Up until now Aston Martin have also made use of Mercedes’ wind tunnel, former Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer saying that comes with some advantages. And while they are already in the the process of expanding their facilities, including a new wind tunnel, it brings an end to that part of the relationship too.
But, as Motorsport.com put it, “if the challenge is accepted, there will be everything at Silverstone to aspire to its absolute goals, and considering the ambitions of Stroll senior, the scenario is not at all unlikely.”