McLaren casting an eye towards 2026 amidst Honda reunion rumours

Jamie Woodhouse
The McLaren and Honda logos. Silverstone, July 2015.

The McLaren and Honda logos. Silverstone, July 2015.

While McLaren are understandably “laser focused” on F1 2023, CEO Zak Brown and team boss Andrea Stella are now talking 2026 power units.

Since 2021 McLaren have had the Mercedes power unit in the back of their challengers, the team rekindling that successful partnership of the past as they look to plot a return to winning ways.

And McLaren are set to continue with Mercedes power until the end of 2025, though what happens then is yet to be determined.

From 2026 a new generation of power units will come into play in Formula 1, featuring an increased reliance on electrical power, the use of fully-sustainable fuels on the Internal Combustion Engine side, and the axing of the MGU-H element as part of efforts to reduce costs.

Existing manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault are signed up, while Red Bull Powertrains alongside Ford will enter their first power unit in 2026. Audi are also joining the mix in partnership with Sauber, while Honda will return as an official manufacturer.

Already then this puts options on the table for current customer teams like McLaren, and the Woking squad has been linked with an attempt to make it third-time lucky alongside Honda.

The pair tried without success to recapture their glory days, McLaren failing to score a podium with Honda power from 2015-17, but the Japanese manufacturer went on to enjoy success with Red Bull as the team lifted the 2021 Constructors’ title.

Honda withdrew from the series after that season, technically, as they continue to manufacture the Red Bull power units, the team claiming a title double in 2022, and Honda will return officially as a manufacturer in 2026, though of course Red Bull are now no longer a partner option. McLaren are.

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Speaking to reporters, including PlanetF1.com at the launch of McLaren’s 2023 challenger, the MCL60, Brown said that he has begun 2026 talks with new team boss Stella.

He made it clear that the team are happy with their Mercedes partnership, though looking ahead they need to work out which partner is going to make them the most competitive long-term.

“We’re very happy with our relationship with Mercedes and everyone at HPP,” said Brown. “They’ve done an excellent job, it’s a great collaboration.

“Andrea and I are now starting to think about 2026 and beyond, we’re in no rush, things are developing fast within the sport.

“I think it’s exciting, there’s many manufacturers looking to participate in Formula 1. I can’t recall the last time there was that amount of manufacturers.

“So Andrea and I will work through the year to figure out what we think is going to make us most competitive in ’26 and beyond. Right now, we’re laser focused on ’23. But we’ve got some time to decide.”