Honda to return to F1 as Aston Martin engine partner-News

Honda has won the last two drivers’ championships with Red Bull and Max Verstappen and took over the constructors’ title last season.

Honda is returning to formula 1 in an official position in 2026 as a co-engineer of the team Aston Martin.

The company pulled out of F1 at the end of 2021 but its engines are still used by the two Red Bull teams and are called Hondas again in 2023.

Honda said on Wednesday that F1’s quest to become neutral by 2030 was the “key factor” behind its decision to re-enter the legal system.

The new 2026 regulations will increase the electrical performance of F1 engines.

The sport’s governing body, the FIA, mandates the use of sustainable synthetic fuels at the same time.

Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe said: “In order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, from 2026 the FIA ​​will mandate the use of 100% carbon neutral fuel and the use of electric power to be increased significantly. Three times from the current regulations.

“With the huge increase in power, the key to success in F1 will be an electric, light and powerful engine with a high-performance battery that can work quickly and energy management technology.

“We believe that this knowledge gained from this new problem can be directly applied to the electric vehicle of the future.”

What is driving Honda’s transformation?

F1 has used hybrid engines since 2014 but the new rules will drastically change their layout.

The main one is the removal of the MGU-H, part of the hybrid system that recovers power from the turbo, and a significant increase in the share of hybrid power in the engine power.

Watanabe said: “Currently, the power consumption is 20% or less compared to the internal combustion engine.

“But the new regulations require about 50% or more of electricity, which is a big step forward for electric power and I believe that electric power technology will be useful for us to make cars in the future.”

The use of carbon-neutral fuels and their inclusion in the engine, he said, “match Honda’s guidelines”.

Watanabe said the expansion of F1’s cost to cover engines also made “long-term and continuous participation in F1 easier”.

Why not continue with Red Bull?

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing are in action ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami
Max Verstappen leads F1 with 14 points from five races in 2023

Honda has won the last two drivers’ championships with Red Bull and Max Verstappen adding the constructors’ title last season. The combination is good for a double title in 2023. Red Bull has dominated the start of the season, winning all five races so far.

Red Bull has decided to develop its own engine for 2026, and has signed an agreement with the US giant Ford to invest in its electric brand.

Aston Martin, who finished seventh in the championship last year, made a big step forward in the race in 2023 and finished second in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Their driver Fernando Alonso is third in the drivers’ championship, behind Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez.

History of Aston Martin to move forward it comes after a major investment and renovation project over the past five years that includes the construction of a new factory, which is due to open before the end of this month. The new wind tunnel is also under construction and should be completed in late 2024.

Watanabe said the Honda and Aston Martin F1 teams “share the same spirit”.

Martin Whitmarsh, group director of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, said: “Aston Martin is building a team to win in F1. .

“Partnering with an international motorsport championship like Honda is a very exciting and important step for the team. Both organizations share the same desire to succeed on the road. We are proud, honored and grateful to establish this partnership.”

Whitmarsh, who helped bring Honda back to F1 in 2015 when he was CEO and team principal of McLaren, added that “2026 will require the full combination of chassis and power that the full team provides”.

He added: “It’s clear from what we’ve seen from Honda and what we’ve learned recently, they have a lot of passion, they want to win, that’s what they want to do, that’s our goal. We already believe this. They will be a great partnership in the future.”

The agreement will mean the end of the arrangement between Aston Martin and Mercedes, in which the team buys most of the rear part of their car, including the engine, gearbox and suspension.

Whitmarsh admitted that developing the gearbox and suspension was “a big but important challenge for us to move forward”.

Watanabe said Honda has no plans to offer any other teams “at this time”.

What about the drivers?

Fernando Alonso drives his Aston Martin car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso is third in the drivers’ standings after finishing fourth in five races this season

Alonso joined McLaren in 2015 to be part of the Honda project but the team and the engine company split after three uncompetitive years. At the time, Alonso’s relationship with Honda was strained, perhaps due to public criticism of the engine by the two-time champion.

But Watanabe said driver decisions “will be in line with the team” and Honda “has no objection” to working with Alonso again.

Alonso is in the first season of a two-year contract with Aston Martin. He turns 42 in July and will be 44 with the beginning of the contract with Honda and the team.

Whitmarsh said: “Honda is a great partner for us. Fernando sees that. Maybe 2026 is out of his plans at the moment. We have to give him a car that can win consistently.

“We have made the right move. We are not where we should be but we will be strong. We will have discussions before 2026, I am sure, about where Fernando’s future is.

“I hope he will be around for a few years and it would be great if he is as fit and competitive as he is today. So it would be great to have him in the car in 2026 as well.”

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