Red Bull made moves to stop becoming afterthought in Aston-Honda deal
Helmut Marko said Red Bull have received “written assurances” from Honda that their new deal with Aston Martin will not affect their current partnership with Red Bull.
Honda announced on Wednesday that they would be partnering with Aston Martin from 2026, marking their return as a works supplier to the grid but also the end of their relationship with Red Bull.
The Japanese engine manufacturer has been supplying power units to both Red Bull and AlphaTauri since the 2019 season but had originally announced their intention to leave the sport at the conclusion of the 2021 season so that their brand could focus on electric vehicles.
The rise in popularity of F1 combined with new power unit regulations and a change of CEO made Honda reverse their decision, confirmed in February when they were announced as one of six power engine suppliers for the 2026 season.
Honda’s initial departure left Red Bull in a tough spot, with a bad experience at Renault making them uneasy about becoming a customer team again. Instead, Red Bull chose to take things in house, establishing Red Bull Powertrains with Honda continuing to provide assistance.
In 2026, the division, which is also based at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes HQ, will be rebranded to Red Bull Ford Powertrains as Christian Horner’s team confirmed a partnership with the American car giant during the RB19’s launch in February.
For now though, with both parties having one eye on the future, Red Bull and Honda will continue to work with each other and Helmut Marko said the team have been assured that the new deal with Aston Martin will not distract the Japanese company from their current job.
“We have received written assurances that the priority will not change until 2025 and that they – like us – will continue to work with full commitment to win more World Championships,” Marko told Motorsport-Magazin.com.
“Honda is very restrictive with their communications as far as the engine is concerned. The intellectual property and all that is exclusive to Honda and we don’t get any detailed information.”
Red Bull and Honda have enjoyed a successful partnership in recent years with a Honda engine powering Max Verstappen to both of his world titles but Marko said even after the supplier decided to return to the sport, there was “no common path” for them to continue working together.
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“The departure [from Honda] was not involuntary, we first had to react,” the Red Bull senior advisor said. “And then, when Honda decided last year to continue, there was no more common path that would have been satisfying for both of us.
“There were talks about a possible cooperation, but we couldn’t agree with Honda on who would do what.”
By the time of Honda’s U-turn, Red Bull had already invested a considerable amount in establishing their power unit factory and Marko said they were only looking for a partner to help manufacture the electrical components for the new hybrid units, which is where Ford comes in.
“This situation arose with Ford as a partner, which does not have this Formula 1 experience, but can also contribute a lot in the battery sector,” Marko said.
“Red Bull Powertrains is doing really well at the moment. We’re on track. All the engines that have already been built are more or less at the level you would expect.”