Honda Confident of Making Reliable F1 Engines in 2026, Unlike the Return of 2015
Notwithstanding an 18-month developmental pause, Honda is convinced that it will be equipped to compete with other Formula 1 power unit manufacturers when it fully returns with Aston Martin in 2026.
At the end of 2021, when its contract with Red Bull expired, Honda ceased to be an official engine manufacturer; however, it continued to produce motors for Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri under the name Honda Racing Corporation.
Watanabe on the positive aspects of hiatus
Koji Watanabe, the head of HRC, claims that Honda’s gradual exit from Formula One has lessened the impact of sacrificing months of research and development time than engine manufacturers who embraced the new regulation cycle from the beginning.
“I’d like to mention that we have been continuously supplying engines upon request from Red Bull even for the current F1, so therefore we are still in operation for the ongoing F1 races as well,” Watanabe said when asked about the expected condition of Honda engines in 2026, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“As for the new regulations to be introduced from 2026, we have continuously engaged in studies of the important factors in terms of the power units. So therefore, we have not totally withdrawn from our R&D activities. Unlike the previous time where we were fully withdrawn, we have already been engaging in development.”
Watanabe on Honda’s Future
According to Watanabe, Honda’s development team was transferred to divisions unrelated to motorsports to look into “carbon neutral projects” after the company officially withdrew from the Formula One competition. However, it conducted case studies on F1’s new engine direction under the HRC moniker, which was also used on Red Bull’s F1 vehicles, which finally resulted in its decision to rejoin as a full-fledged manufacturer.
“Until March 2022, we were fully engaged in gauging the development of the power units up until 2022,” he added. “So, we had the full headcount still remaining.
“In April 2022, a new company called Honda Racing Corporation was established, this is the dedicated company for motorsport races. This company kept on engaging in studies and the development of four-wheel technologies, and we commenced studies regarding the new regulations.
“Therefore, we don’t think that we have lost so much regardless of our withdrawal from F1 racing at this point in time.”