Race Teams Court Honda As Its Future In F1 Hangs In The Balance
Despite its shaky past and its recent Red Bull saga, Honda says that it has been approached by several teams on the F1 grid about using its powertrains as of 2026.
The automaker is one of six suppliers that have officially signed up to provide engines for the 2026 to 2030 racing seasons. Honda, though, is the only one of those six that is not currently tied to a racing team, and it still has not made a final decision about which team it will go with, if any.
“After we made the registration we have been contacted by multiple Formula One teams,” said Koji Watanabe, the president of Honda Racing Corporation, per Reuters. “For now, we don’t have any concrete decisions on whether or not we will be going back to joining Formula One.”
Read: Ford Officially Returns To F1 As Red Bull Powertrain Provider
Although it has signed up to be an engine supplier, that decision remains a declaration of interest in joining the sport, rather than a fully-fledged commitment. Watanabe said that the automaker is interested in F1 because the 2026 regulations increase the amount of electrification of the powertrain, which aligns with its own ambitions.
“That is why we have decided to register as manufacturer of a power unit,” said Watanbe. “We are curious about where Formula One is going and how is that going to look with more electrification happening.”
While Honda has provided no further information on which teams it is in discussions with, rumors have cropped up that McLaren may opt to switch from Mercedes powertrains to partner back up with Honda.
Once a dominant pairing in F1, Honda and McLaren have a rich racing history together, earning world championships with legendary driver, Ayrton Senna. More recently, though, the partnership was associated with failure from 2015 to 2017, as efforts to rekindle their past success ended up in McLaren becoming one of the worst-performing teams on the grid.
Following that embarrassment, Honda partnered with Red Bull, to much greater success. The automaker, though, announced that it would be pulling out of the sport in 2021, the same season that Max Verstappen won his first driver’s championship with the team, prompting it to stick around in the sport a little longer. Ultimately, though, its flakiness led Red Bull to seek a new partner for its newly established Red Bull Powertrains division. Earlier this month, it announced that Ford would be that partner.
Whether Honda’s reputation as an unreliable engine supplier will affect its prospects in the future of the sport remains unclear. But with global interest in F1 growing, it seems the automaker could do what it must to find an engine bay for its powertrains.