- Honda will return to Formula 1 in 2026
- Honda left F1 at the end of 2021
- It will build Aston Martin’s carbon-neutral engines
After severing ties with Red Bull, Honda will return to Formula 1 in 2026 as the official engine partner for Aston Martin.
Honda left F1 at the end of 2021, Red Bull teams continue to use its engines which they still refer to as ‘Hondas’.
The Japanese automaker on Wednesday said that the major factor in its decision to formally rejoin F1 was the competition’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.
WHY IS FIA ADVOCATING FOR CARBON-NEUTRAL ENGINES?
These new regulations by the FIA will improve the electrical performance of Formula 1 engines.
Further, these engines will be small, and light, with a high-power motor, and a high-performance battery that handles high-power output as well as energy-management technologies.
That’s why new FIA rules call for the usage of entirely sustainable synthetic fuels by all Formula One teams starting in 2026.
IS HONDA READY TO USE CARBON-NEUTRAL ENGINES?
In light of this new development, Koji Watanabe, the Honda Racing Corporation president said the automaker is in full support of FIA in its quest to use synthetic fuel.
“In pursuit of its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, starting in the 2026 season the FIA will mandate the use of 100% carbon-neutral fuel and the deployment of electrical power will be increased significantly by three times from the current regulations,” Watanabe told BBC Sport.
“We believe this know-how gained from this new challenge has the potential to be applied directly to a future mass-production electric vehicle,” he added.
WHAT ENGINES DO F1 USE?
Although Formula 1 has employed hybrid engines since 2014, the new regulations will significantly alter their design. The two greatest changes are the elimination of the MGU-H. This is the hybrid system’s component responsible for turbocharger energy recovery, and a significant rise in the share of hybrid power in engine output.
The Honda racing chief explains that the current F1 engines produce 20% less electrical power, unlike an internal combustion engine. However, the use of synthetic fuel augurs well for an electrical performance boost.
“But the new regulations require about 50% or more of electrification, which moves even further toward electrification and I believe the technology for electrification will be useful for us in producing vehicles in the future,” Watanabe states.
IS HONDA INTERESTED IN RETURNING TO FORMULA ONE?
Honda is excited at the prospect of making a comeback to Formula 1. Watanabe implores that using carbon-neutral fuels and incorporating them into their engines is in line with Honda’s ultimate direction.
The decision, according to Watanabe, was also influenced by the F1 cost cap’s expansion to include engines because it made long-term and continuous participation in F1 easier.
WHY DID HONDA END PARTNERSHIP WITH RED BULL?
Red Bull decided to develop its own engine for the 2026 model year and has partnered with US automaker Ford to finance and brand the drivetrain.
Honda propelled Red Bull to two victories with Dutch driver Max Verstappen behind the wheel. Verstappen won the 2021 and 2022 F1 World Championship titles. By the look of things in the 2023 season, Red Bull is on track to win a third title in a row. Red Bull has dominated the first five races of the season, taking all five victories.
WHY IS ASTON MARTIN PARTNERING WITH HONDA?
Aston Martin’s development followed a significant investment and restructuring project over the previous five years. It included the construction of a new factory that will open by the end of this May 2023. Additionally, a brand-new wind tunnel is under construction and its construction will continue to completion at the end of 2024.
Thus, Honda and Aston, Martin partnered because they share the same motorsport DNA. The American F1 team is assembling a winning F1 squad, according to Martin Whitmarsh, group chief executive officer of Aston Martin Performance Technologies.
They have been building the necessary infrastructure, investing in the right personnel, and creating the ideal cultures and procedures to succeed. Whitmarsh headed McLaren a decade ago and he helped make Honda’s comeback to Formula 1 in 2015.
He says that 2026 will require full integration of chassis and power-unit that only a full works team delivers. From his observation about Honda, he is sure Aston Martin will become a formidable competitor in 2026.