Having failed to sign up just one F1 engine manufacturer for its original scheduled 2021 new beed of power units, Formula One now finds itself with an abundance of riches.
In addition to the current manufacturers, Audi have a deal to buy Sauber and supply an all new power unit designed and manufactured in Germany.
Honda: F1 manufacturer in search of a team
Red Bull have agreed a deal with Ford and the ever hopeful Andretti Motorsport outfit claim they have General Motors in their corner, in the guise of Cadillac, should the rest of the F1 teams allow them to play.
The upcoming defection of Sauber from the Ferrari engine stable, leaves just Haas F1 as a customer for the Maranello prancing horsepower. This will no doubt please Haas boss Gunther Steiner who now holds a stronger hand when negotiating the deal for parts with Maranello.
However, it is Honda who appear to find themselves in a bit of a bind.
Having declared themselves “out” of Formula One, the Japanese auto manufacturer decided to stay and continue to supply Red Bull until 2025 once the FIA had frozen the development of the power units.
Japanese Indecision left RBR no choice
As part of this convoluted process, Honda have also registered as a manufacturer for the new FIA regulated engines due to debut in 2026.
However, Honda’s successful relationship with Red Bull will be superseded by Ford. The Milton Keynes outfit faced uncertainty as Honda’s dithering and decided to build their own power unit together with Ford money and expertise.
With the taste of success still lying sweet on the palette, Honda’s recent three world championship titles with Red Bull have turned heads in the Minato region of Tokyo. Now the Japanese corporate types have another decision to make.
With the current headwind, its likely Red Bull and Honda could easily rack up six more F1 championship titles before the advent of the new power units in 2026. So does Honda really want to withdraw from the largest global motorsports stage?
Alpha Tauri to test Red Bull engines
And if not, who would the Japanese company wish to partner with?
Despite recent speculation over the Faenza based team’s future, Alpha Tauri are set to be retained as the Red Bull sister team.
“We need a second team, simple as that,” said an insistent Helmut Marko who revealed why during the Australia GP weekend.
“Especially for the [Red Bull Powertrains] engines, it has to work. We have very good people here, the best.”
This refers to the fact that Red Bull/Ford power trains will want to run more than just two power units each weekend to gather vital data on how their programme is progressing.
McLaren – Honda return unlikely says Brown
McLaren, like the proverbial lady of the night, have been in talks with almost everyone over the last 12 months.
Recently Zak Brown revealed both Porsche and Audi came knocking during 2022 and whilst the McLaren CEO stated the team were “presently happy with Mercedes” their current engine partner, he also admitted to visiting the Red Bull power trains factory during this year.
Whilst the team running McLaren is different from the regime that partnered last time around with Honda, the bad blood which developed between the two parties and was epitomised by Alonso’s slur on the Japanese engines capabilities.
Fernando described the Honda unit as “like a GP2” engine at the 2015Japanese GP.
The stigma of the “GP2” Honda engine
When Honda finally won in Brazil with Red Bull in 2019, Fernando was taunted online; “not bad for a GP2 engine,” said one commentator.
Fernando has admitted he since regrets his comments were broadcast to millions but reminded his critics that in the first four days of Jerez testing, the Honda delivered just 7 laps.
Further Fernando calculated he had suffered 575 place grid drop penalties from the ever unreliable Honda powered McLaren he was driving.
Assuming Zak Brown does not perform yet another U-Turn, Honda in reality only has two options remaining in Williams and Aston Martin.
Williams or Aston Martin for Honda?
Having released one of their longest serving members of staff to the role of William’s team principal, Mercedes would hope both the team and boss James Vowells will remain loyal to the Mercedes stable.
Which leaves Honda the surprising option of working with a resurgent Silverstone based team.
Reports in the Spanish media suggest Lawrence Stroll may be about to make a very large play that could see Alonso and Honda re-united but under different colours.
Honda powered Vanquish on the cards
Yet the incredible aspect of the Spanish report is that the relationship could extend beyond just that of supplying Aston Martin with F1 power units form 2026.
Aston Martin have targeted the year 2026 whereby each of its road going cars in the range will have an all electric option.
The combustion engined road vehicles would continue to be powered by Mercedes, but the door is open for Honda to pitch for Aston’s all electrical future business.
Another weekend, another Checo adventure 💪
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 18, 2023