If pure racing is not enough to satisfy, the off track twists and turns for those involved in Formula One are never ending. Each year the drivers and teams plot a path to ever greater success but get hijacked along the way and have to adapt.
The announcement of a renewed and strengthened partnership between Red Bull Racing and Honda at the 2022 Japanese GP set tongues a wagging that the pair would forge a deal for the new 2026 power unit era.
Honda registered with FIA as 2026 engine supplier
Honda are registered with the FIA as a 2026 manufacturer despite having officially withdrawn fro the sport at present. However, the Red Bull new car launch that didn’t really launch either a new car or livery did reveal the F1 relationship between Honda and Red Bull would cease at the ed of the 2025 season as Ford steps into the breach.
The question is, why wold Honda continue to participate in the FIA working group on the new power unit regulations for 2026?
Having won three world titles since their announcement in 2020 they were leaving the sport, have Honda changed their mind again? If so what are their options?
Haas F1: 3 bases in 3 countries
One team springs to mind as a potential works outfit for the Japanese manufacturer and that is Haas F1. Since their entry into Formula One in 2016 the team have been supplied by Ferrari with a power unit.
Whilst it was Dallara who built the first Haas chassis in year one it was under the supervision of Ferrari who provided pretty much every component legally allowed under the FIA regulations.
Such has been the co-operation, Haas operates part of its operations from Ferrari’s base in Maranello alongside their base in Banbury and ‘HQ’ in Kannapolis in the USA.
Haas “to become more independent”
For a Formula One team this is less than ideal. The Aston Martin team boss recently eulogised over their new open plan offices which would make informal communications much better and improve efficiency.
Haas 3 locations would then surely drive any manager tasked with pulling together the project of designing, building and tuning an F1 car – to distraction. So finding UK based F1 power unit supplier would simplify Haas organisational structure a great deal.
Recently team principal Gunther Steiner revealed Haas goal is to become a “more independent team”.
Haas now making suspension and transmission
“We are able to independently develop transmissions, suspension and be a more independent team,” Steiner recently disclosed to the German magazine, Auto Motor und Sport.
“We first thought about it back in 2018 and I even prepared a plan of action,” revealed Steiner but the pandemic set them back several years.
“Now we are thinking about how to be less dependent. Let’s see what will happen in the new season and then decide.
“But I think that in two or three years it will be quite possible.”
Three years from now will see next generation of Formula One power units introduced. With Haas F1’s base just 45 minutes from that of Honda’s Uk site, there’s no reason why a partnership between the two could not be formed.
Honda’s conundrum requires a swift resolution. With less than three years to go they are ‘committed’ to supply power units for the 2026 but have no team to run them.
McLaren are another option for Honda and their turbulent relationship between 2015-17 should be long forgotten given the Japanese manufacturers success with Red Bull Racing.
Aston Martin may also have the aspiration to become an F1 works outfit given the high investment they’ve made in the $200m new facilities at Silverstone.
Whilst Haas owes its F1 history to Ferrari, the opportunity to partner with a recent world championship winning power unit manufacturer may be just too tempting for Haas to refuse.