Fernando Alonso makes bold Aston Martin prediction even before Honda arrival

Henry Valantine
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, on the grid with drink. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, standing on the Baku grid with a drink. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Even before Honda join up with Aston Martin in their works engine partnership from 2026, Fernando Alonso believes he can fight for a title with the team still running as Mercedes customers.

Aston Martin and Honda confirmed this week that the team would launch an exclusive power unit deal with the Japanese engine manufacturer from the 2026 season, with the team set to become Formula 1’s sixth works entry on the grid when the sport’s next major regulation change takes place.

It is another big step in the team’s development as owner Lawrence Stroll invests in ways to upset the established pecking order in the sport, with construction on Aston Martin’s new factory also well underway, alongside a large recruitment drive having taken place in recent years.

Alonso joined the team to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel in time for the 2023 season, and they have been the most improved team of the year so far – jumping right up from midfield to be challenging for the ‘best of the rest’ mantle behind Red Bull.

They will still continue to run with customer Mercedes power units until the end of 2025, but with Formula 1 regulations demanding that engine suppliers have to give their customers up-to-date equipment that is on a par with the works teams, Alonso feels the team does not necessarily have to have made the move to Honda in order to challenge for wins and titles before 2026.

“I mean, very good news for the team, very exciting,” Alonso said in Monaco in reaction to the news of Honda’s partnership.

“I think it shows the commitment of Aston Martin to really win races, win championships in the future, being independent, manufacturing their own gearboxes and everything on the car.

“And it’s the only way probably to really be 100% sure that you are in control of everything in your package in your car, and it’s a great sign for everybody in Aston Martin, the desire and the potential to win is there.”

But when asked if a works power unit is a necessity to challenge for titles in the here and now, Alonso replied with an emphatic: “No.”

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Given that Aston Martin-Honda will be one of six planned works entries on the grid in 2026, the two-time World Champion was challenged on that viewpoint and asked if he feels it is the correct direction for the team to take for the future.

Despite the obvious positives of a factory power unit partnership, the Spaniard does not see a hindrance to challenging for a title before the switch comes.

“I think so, I think so,” he responded when asked if a works deal is the right course of action for Aston Martin. “Especially in 2026, where, you know, the new regulations will come.

“It is always better if you can develop your power unit, together with the chassis and have everything integrated well in advance, being a works team, I think there are only benefits.

“I think that doesn’t mean that until 2026 Aston Martin will not have a chance to win the championship.”