Honda has officially announced that it will return to F1 in 2026 with Aston Martin as its works team.
The Japanese manufacturer, which enjoyed tremendous success in the sport in the late 80s and early 90s with Williams and then McLaren, returned in 2015 - a year after the introduction of the hybrid formula - in what turned out to be a drastic partnership with McLaren.
While the Woking outfit subsequently parted ways with the engine partner with which it had enjoyed numerous titles, Toro Rosso opted to switch to the Japanese manufacturer before Red Bull subsequently partnered with it also.
As it stands, while Mercedes has won 114 (615) of the 187 grands prix held since the introduction of the hybrid formula, despite entering a year later Honda is currently the second most successful engine supplier with 39 wins (21%).
As bad as the relationship with McLaren was, so the Red Bull-Honda partnership was good, though the Japanese manufacturer subsequently announced its decision to leave the sport once again.
However, while it partly went back on the decision in terms of supplying IP and technical assistance to Red Bull as it set up its powertrains division, tempted by the further electrification of the rules in 2026 it announced its decision to decision to sign up as a potential engine supplier from that time, even though this was not binding.
In pursuit of its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, starting from 2026, F1 will implement new regulations with an engine/electric motor maximum power output ratio of 50/50. This will represent a significant increase in the deployment of electrical power compared to the current ratio*2, while use of a 100% sustainable fuel is also required.
Specifically, the 2026 regulations require a reduction of engine output while tripling the output of the energy recovery system (ERS), which recovers kinetic energy under certain situations such as braking, and converts it into electrical energy. This will result in maximum power output that is roughly even between the engine and motor.
These changes are consistent with the direction Honda has been taking toward the realization of carbon neutrality. Working to these regulations will have profound significance in terms of providing Honda important opportunities to pursue the development of future technologies toward that direction. Based on this belief, Honda made the decision to take on a new challenge in F1 racing.
The Honda Racing Corporation (HRC), which has become responsible for both auto and motorcycle motorsports activities since 2022, will assume responsibility for the development of power units, race participation and the management for F1 racing as well.
"I would like to welcome Honda and Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team," said Lawrence Stroll. "We share a mutual drive, determination, and relentless ambition to succeed on track.
"Honda is a global titan and its success in motorsport is longstanding and incredibly impressive. I would like to thank Mr Mibe and Mr Watanabe, and the whole team at HRC as we embark on this exciting future together from 2026."
"One of the key reasons for our decision to take up the new challenge in F1 is that the world's pinnacle form of racing is striving to become a sustainable racing series," added Toshihiro Mibe, Global CEO, Honda, "which is in line with the direction Honda is aiming toward carbon neutrality, and it will become a platform which will facilitate the development of our electrification technologies.
"Honda is a company that has a history of growing by taking on challenges and winning world-class races. With the new 2026 regulations, the key for winning will be a compact, lightweight, and high-power electric motor with a high-performance battery capable of handling high and swift power output, as well as the energy management technology.
"We believe that the technologies and know-how gained from this new challenge can potentially be applied directly to our future mass production electric vehicles, such as an electric flagship sports model, and electrification technologies in various areas, including eVTOL which is currently under research and development.
"Honda and our new partner, the Aston Martin F1 Team, share the same sincere attitude and determination to win, so starting with the 2026 season, we will work together and strive for the Championship title as Aston Martin Aramco Honda.
"Honda has the utmost respect for the FIA, which made a bold decision to introduce these new and challenging regulations to ensure the sustainability of both racing activities and the global environment, and for the Formula One Group, which has been enhancing the brand value of F1 and ensuring F1's evolvement as the most prestigious automobile racing in the world."
"I have been fortunate in my career to work with Honda over the years," said Martin Whitmarsh, Group CEO, Aston Martin Performance Technologies, "and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with HRC and the Aston Martin team from 2026.
"The new 2026 F1 power unit regulations are a huge and important change but one which we are confident we can navigate successfully together. Jointly with our strategic partner Aramco, we can look forward to open collaboration towards a common goal. Our future works partnership with Honda is one of the last parts of the jigsaw puzzle slotting into place for Aston Martin's ambitious plans in Formula One.
"Finally, I would like to pay tribute to our current power unit supplier who we will continue to partner with for the next few seasons."
"In the midst of major changes in our business and the motorsports environment leading toward the transition to a carbon neutral society, we have re-established HRC as an optimal platform to sustain and further evolve motorsport activities as a Honda strength," added Koji Watanabe, President, Honda Racing Corporation.
"We will establish sustainable operational structures for our racing activities and continue to deliver more dreams and excitement for motorsports fans all around the world."