Williams rule out Honda as ‘serious contender’ for 2026 power unit partnership

Henry Valantine
Honda logo on show on the side of the Red Bull garage.

Honda logo on show.

Williams team principal James Vowles has said Honda are not currently a “serious contender” to partner the team with power units from the 2026 season.

Formula 1’s engine regulations are undergoing a major overhaul from 2026, with Honda currently listed as a power unit provider for any prospective customers, but they have not yet signed a partnership deal with any team on the grid as it stands.

Their current working partnership with Red Bull will end in 2025, with Ford set to take up the reins with the current World Champions in a new power unit deal from 2026 onwards with Red Bull Powertrains.

Williams team principal Vowles spoke previously about the team potentially needing to take matters into their own hands on the power unit front if they are to propel themselves further up the field again in future, but given that he does not currently know the status of what Honda are able to offer, that counts against them over a possible deal with Williams.

“It’d be hard for me to comment because I’m not sure what [Honda] have facilities-wise,” Vowles told media in Saudi Arabia, as per The Race.

“But I think they’re a little bit further away from where they would need to be to be a serious contender.”

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Vowles joined Williams from current power unit suppliers Mercedes after a long-term tenure as their strategy director, but he acknowledged that it would be “foolish to just go with where I’m comfortable”, elaborating on the need for him to shop around the options available to him before settling on a future power unit deal.

Williams and Honda partnered with each other to World Championship success in the mid-1980s, with Nelson Piquet’s 1987 crown capping off the last working relationship between the brands.

But with Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and now Audi also in the frame for future customer deals, there is plenty for Williams to assess before they make their final decision.

“We are at the moment still in the process of making sure we understand all the options available to this team,” Vowles explained.

“We’re not locked into Mercedes, and we’re still in the process of reviewing, but we have to come to a decision fairly shortly.

“I think the end of the year would be late. So, a little bit before then.”