Red Bull and AlphaTauri will crank their collaboration with Honda back up with several changes coming for Japan and beyond.
Honda first linked up with the Red Bull-owned teams back in 2018, Honda becoming engine supplier to Toro Rosso, the former identity of AlphaTauri, before then beginning to supply the main Red Bull team as well from 2019.
Honda had embarked on this new partnership after splitting with McLaren at the end of 2017, their reunion failing to deliver the desired results.
There would be much greater success to come for Honda with Red Bull, powering Max Verstappen to the 2021 Drivers’ title, while Pierre Gasly won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix with AlphaTauri.
The Honda-Red Bull partnership ended officially though at the conclusion of the 2021 season, Honda leaving the Formula 1 scene to focus on their projects towards carbon neutrality.
It certainly was not a complete split though, Honda continuing to lend technical support to Red Bull and producing the 2022 power unit at their base, with support to continue through to the end of 2025. Red Bull now have their own engine division, Red Bull Powertrains, in operation.
But, Honda are strengthening their Red Bull ties further, starting from the Japanese Grand Prix, a home race for Honda.
The Honda logo is now set to be displayed once more on the AlphaTauri and Red Bull challengers from Japan and beyond.
Plus, ‘HRC Thanks Day’ is going to be held on Sunday 27 November, attended by Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Sergio Perez, plus AlphaTauri drivers Gasly and Japan’s own Yuki Tsunoda.
Perez meanwhile is going to take on an ambassador role for the driving academy of Honda Racing School (HRS), starting with a lecture to students in November of this year.
AlphaTauri principal Franz Tost said: “Over the years we have developed an amazing working relationship with Honda and it’s great to be continuing to strengthen this with a variety of activities, including displaying the iconic logo on the car once again, starting from the Japanese Grand Prix.
“We are very thankful for the hard work from Honda during our time together, allowing us to achieve several podiums as well as Pierre’s race win in Monza, and we hope that this success will continue into the future.”
Koji Watanabe, Head of Corporate Communications Supervisory Unit, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and President of Honda Racing Corporation, added: “The HRC logo on the nose and Honda logo on the side of the race machines of both teams represent the strong ties between Honda and Red Bull Group.
“Through the technical support provided by HRC, Honda will fully support the challenges those machines take on to become the ‘fastest in the world.’ We are very pleased that these machines will be unveiled at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, where Honda serves as the title sponsor.
“Please root for the two Red Bull Group teams which compete with power units loaded with Honda technologies.”
Further signs of an official Honda reunion
Since Honda officially left Formula 1, speculation has persisted that the Japanese manufacturer would look to return at some stage, an ambition seemingly held by many of their staff who worked on the Formula 1 project.
2026 was earmarked as a potential return date for Honda, with the new power units from that season set to rely on more electrical power and sustainable fuels on the combustion side, which could be of interest to Honda and their carbon neutral projects.
And recently Red Bull’s advisor and driver programme boss Helmut Marko confirmed that talks are ongoing with Honda, stressing that any renewed link-up must respect Red Bull’s DNA and allow for their freedom to remain, a hurdle which the talks with Porsche failed to overcome.
So, with Honda having now stepped up their Red Bull presence again, it does make the possibility of a full-scale reunion seem a whole lot more possible.