Having been powered by Honda to win a titanic battle against Lewis Hamilton to win his first F1 title in 2021, Max Verstappen says its “a bit of a shame” to hear about the Japanese manufacturer’s announcement that they will partner with Aston Martin from 2026.
Honda took the decision to pull out of Formula One from the end of 2021 which in effect forced the FIA into freezing engine development until the new power units become available in 2026.
Honda decision “unfortunate”
Ferrari and Mercedes had previously refused to supply Red Bull with a power unit following the disastrous end to their partnership with Renault which would have left the Milton Keynes team without a power unit in 2022.
Honda had their own fatalistic relationship with McLaren and fell into the arms of Red Bull and Alpha Tauri when the Woking team decided to end the partnership.
Having forced Red Bull into taking the decision not to be held a hostage to fortune again by a power unit manufacturer and build their own engine, Honda have decided to stay in Formula One and partner with Aston Martin when the new regulations come into force in 2026.
“I think from our side, of course, it’s a bit unfortunate how all of that turned out because a few years ago, they say ‘We’re gonna stop’, so then Red Bull sets up its own engine division,’” Verstappen said in Monaco.
Verstappen loved working with Honda
“Unfortunately, once you’re already in the process of building a whole engine yourself, you can’t really work together anymore. We always have and had a really good relationship with them, and then seeing them go to Aston Martin is a bit of a shame.”
Honda’s reason for leaving F1 was to concentrate on their sustainability programme but given the 2026 regulations will enforce 100% sustainable fuel and 50% of the power being delivered from electrical output the Japanese manufacturer has reconsidered its decision.
“For Aston Martin as well, it’s really good, they have a great engine, we all know that,” Verstappen concluded. “I love working with them (Honda), we’ve had a lot of success already, so of course I will be sad to see them go.”
Verstappen’s comments are in contrast to those of Red Bull’s advisor Helmut Marko who suggested Honda were difficult to work with.
Wolff downplays Mercedes upgrade
Ford return “exciting”
“There were talks about possible cooperation, but we couldn’t reach an agreement with Honda about who would do what,” Marko revealed.
“So this situation arose and we now have Ford as a partner. They obviously have no experience in current Formula 1, but they can contribute a lot to the battery.”
Ford left Formula One when they sold the Jaguar team to Red Bull in 2006 and will return as their technical engine partner in 2026.
“We are also very excited from our side from 2026 onwards to see what’s going to happen together,” said Verstappen, who at 25 years of age has six more race wins than double world champion Fernando Alonso.
Aston to become works team
Alonso is tipped by a number of F1 pundits to win this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix despite being now into his 40’s. The Spaniard has 75 points from the five race weekends of there year to date and has collected four podiums already for his Aston Martin team.
Alonso was critical of Honda during his time at McLaren famously describing their engine as like one in a GP2 car with an obvious lack of power.
Yet Fernando now with Aston Martin believes there will be no problems if he remains with the team into Honda’s arrival.
“Its very good news for the team, very exciting. Shows the commitment of Aston Martin to really win races, to win championships in the future,” Alonso said in the Monaco drivers’ press conference.
Two things that annoy Hamilton
Alonso happy to work with Honda
“Especially in 2026, where the new regulations will count, it’s always better if you can develop your power unit together with the chassis and have everything well integrated well in advance, being a works team. I think there are only benefits.”
In 2026 Fernando will be 44 years of age and admitted he isn’t certain what he will be doing then
“I will lie if I tell you that I know right now. For sure, I feel fresh, I feel motivated, I feel sharp, still fast. If I keep enjoying I will love to keep racing,” said the Spaniard.
“I will be the first one to raise my hand and say, you know, maybe it’s time (to stop). So let’s see, I think it’s a long way until 2026.”
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A Monaco masterclass #OnThisDay in 2012 as Michael took what would have been his 69th pole position in F1. 👏pic.twitter.com/hAcQW2u2rH
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) May 26, 2023