F1 chief hails ‘exciting’ development with Honda set for grid return

·3-min read
Honda will partner with Red Bull from the 2026 F1 season  (Getty Images)
Honda will partner with Red Bull from the 2026 F1 season (Getty Images)

Stefano Domenicali, chief executive of Formula 1, has hailed the “exciting” partnership between Honda and Aston Martin as the Japanese manufacturer prepare to return to the sport.

The two brands announced this week that Honda would be the engine partner for Aston Martin’s F1 cars from 2026.

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Although the automotive giants had officially withdrawn from the sport in 2021, its engines are still utilised by the two Red Bull teams.

But with Formula 1 pushing towards an attempt to be carbon neutral by 2030, Honda have been attracted back.

And Domenicali believes their return shows the sport is moving in the right direction.

“It is great news for Formula 1 that Honda will partner with Aston Martin to supply power units from 2026,” said Domenicali.

“This is further evidence that our global platform and growth provides brands with huge potential, and it also shows that our plans to move to sustainable fuels in 2026 is the right approach to offer the automotive world alternative solutions to decarbonise the planet.

“We can all see the incredible commitment Aston Martin has made to our sport and we can’t wait to see the exciting partnership in action, and I want to congratulate both parties on this exciting news.”

While FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem hailed the partnership as an illustration of the sport’s “technological innovation, sustainability and competition.”

“The continued interest from global automotive giants such Honda shows once again that the 2026 Power Unit Regulations set out by the FIA in collaboration with FOM and the incumbent PU manufacturers struck precisely the right balance to ensure that the FIA Formula One World Championship remains at the forefront of technological innovation, sustainability and competition,” said the FIA President.

“As we announced earlier in the year, no fewer than six of these industry leaders have registered their participation for the 2026-2030 regulations cycle – Alpine, Audi, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes and Red Bull Ford – and I am very pleased that Honda has committed to return to the grid with the Aston Martin team.”

New rules in 2026 will increase the electrical performance of engines utilised in F1, which has used hybrid engines for nearly a decade.

The FIA will also introduce regulations mandating fully synthetic, sustainable fuels at the same time.

Honda’s engines have helped Max Verstappen and Red Bull to the last two world titles, with a third likely to be secured this year, but the team has partnered with Ford to build its own engine for the 2026 season.

That has opened the door for a partnership with Aston Martin, who are enjoying a promising season after a significant offseason of improvement that also brought former world champion Fernando Alonso to the team.

Alonso is currently third in the Drivers’ Championship standings, with Aston Martin the closest challengers to Red Bull in the chase for the constructors’ crown.

“Aston Martin is building a team to win in F1,” Martin Whitmarsh, the group chief executive officer of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, explained. “We have been recruiting the right people and investing in the required facilities and developing the right culture and processes to win.

“To partner a global motorsport titan like Honda is an extremely exciting and important further step for the team. Both organisations share the same relentless ambition to succeed on track. We are very proud, honoured and grateful to put in place this partnership.”

The 2023 F1 season continues in Monaco this weekend.