McLaren reportedly contact Honda over 2026 power unit reunion

Sam Cooper
The McLaren and Honda logos. Silverstone, July 2015.

The McLaren and Honda logos. Silverstone, July 2015.

A reunion between McLaren and Honda could be on the cards with the Woking outfit reportedly contacting the Japanese manufacturer.

There have been two eras of Honda-powered McLarens in the British team’s history with the first coming in the late 1980s at a time when Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were battling it out for Championships.

Together, McLaren and Honda won four consecutive Constructors’ Championships and even in their final year working together, McLaren secured P2 in the 1991 Championship, behind the Renault-powered Williams.

The two linked up together again in 2015 but, such was the poor performance of the Honda engine, the duo opted to end the deal early with the Japanese manufacturer going on to supply Red Bull.

But, a reunion could be on the cards in 2026 with The Race reporting that discussions have been held over the winter break about a potential partnership.

According to Scott Mitchell-Malm, those discussions are in “an extremely early phase” with Honda weighing up whether they will commit to being an engine supplier under the new regulations as well as which team they would partner with.

Honda was confirmed by the FIA as one of six potential suppliers on the grid from 2026 but as it stands, they are the only power unit maker without a team.

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They powered Red Bull from 2019 but opted to walk away from the sport, believing their best focus was on electric and more environmentally friendly vehicles. They chose to leave Red Bull in 2021 but Max Verstappen’s title win, as well as a change in CEO and the 2026 engine regulation changes, saw them have a change of heart.

Red Bull however had already made other plans, establishing their own power unit division which Honda will continue to assist with until 2026 at which point Ford will take over.

McLaren CEO has previously said they are happy with their current arrangement with Mercedes, who they partnered with in 2021 but did admit their was benefits to being a works team.

“There are obviously benefits to being a works team with some of the advanced knowledge that you get,” Brown said, as per, following reports they were working on an engine deal with Porsche in November.

“We’re very happy with Mercedes.

“I’m a believer that you can win a world championship with a customer engine. I think the engine in our car is no different than the engine in Lewis [Hamilton’s] car.

“I think the engines are absolutely the same. We have a long-term contract with Mercedes, are very happy with the collaboration and aren’t really spending too much time thinking about 2026 and beyond.”

Whether Brown’s mindset has changed over the winter following Honda’s confirmed return remains to be seen.