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Could Aston Martin switch to Honda power in F1 2026?



The possibility is one of the more intriguing stories to emerge over the April holidays, and while it sounds far-fetched, history shows that anything can happen in F1, especially when juggling team identities and power unit suppliers.

The 2026 season will see a shakeup of engine partners, with Sauber leaving Ferrari to become Audi, and Red Bull and AlphaTauri parting ways with Honda to run new Ford-backed engines.

Honda’s position remains unclear. Encouraged by Max Verstappen’s double, the company is reconsidering its plans to quit F1 and has its name on the list of manufacturers to register with the FIA ​​in 2026.

That doesn’t mean Honda will be involved, but at least it has its foot in the door. If it does intend to participate, it needs to have projects already underway through 2026, and do so on the back of cost caps and other constraints that now apply to engine makers.

Honda also needs to find a new partner team after delays forced Red Bull to take control of its own destiny and build its own factory in Milton Keynes.

Red Bull RB18 racing car with Honda logo

Red Bull RB18 racing car with Honda logo

photographer: George Piola

“F1 is making a big move towards electrification and carbon neutrality is a company-wide goal for us at Honda,” Honda Racing President Koji Watanabe said in February.

“We felt that the future direction of F1 was in line with our goals, so we decided to register as a power unit manufacturer.

“We’re curious where F1 is going, F1 is the top racing category, what’s going to happen as more electrification happens? We want to keep an eye on that. That’s why we decided to register as a PU manufacturer.

“After we completed our registration, we were contacted by multiple F1 teams. At the moment, we want to keep a close eye on where F1 is going to see how things are going. At the moment, we don’t have any concrete decisions on whether we will return to F1.”

It’s all very vague, but it’s clear there will be interest if the right partner can be found. Unless it’s pegged to a new entrant, the realistic options are three current Mercedes customers; McLaren, Williams and Aston Martin.

Logically, all three are currently examining possible options for 2026 and beyond.

“We’re still at the moment making sure we understand all the options available to this team,” Williams owner James Walls said recently.

“But no, we’re not locked in by Mercedes. We’re still in the review process. We’ve got to make a decision soon, like all teams. I think it’s a bit later at the end of the year. So a little bit before that.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32 Honda, stopped due to engine failure

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32 Honda, stopped due to engine failure

Photography: Dom Romney / motorsport pictures

A Honda-McLaren reunion will have to overcome all the baggage associated with their last partnership, which ended in an acrimonious split at the end of 2017, but both sides will have to explore all avenues – the Woking team have spoken to Red Bull about Ford Possible deal for engine.

So what about Aston Martin? The sports car maker clearly has strong corporate ties to Mercedes, and on the face of it, a switch to Honda doesn’t seem to make any business sense.

Having said that, Lawrence Stroll’s ambition is to challenge for a world title, and the strides his team have taken this year suggest he must be taken seriously. Logically, to become a true title contender, part of a long-term strategy must include reducing or even eliminating reliance on major competitors.

The first steps will be seen shortly after, when the team switches to its own wind tunnel at Silverstone and no longer shares the Mercedes factory at Brackley. The next step will be to use fewer Mercedes-sourced parts, which really means the rear suspension and gearbox. Sauber has switched to producing its own gearboxes instead of using Ferrari’s as its partnership with Audi has grown, and Aston could follow a similar route.

Back in December, Aston technical director Dan Fallows stressed there were no plans to reduce reliance on Mercedes, but he left the door open for future changes.

“I think we’re very open to these kinds of things,” he said. “The team has benefited enormously from the relationship with Mercedes.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photography: Jack Grant / motorsport pictures

“As we move into the future and do things our own way or develop our own projects, we know very well that we have to be able to do at least as well as them, if not better than them. Capabilities that must be established before deciding.

“Honestly, it’s open to what we see in the future, really. Lawrence is very open about his ambitions for this team, and I think we always have to evaluate the next thing that can help us become more competitive.” power thing.”

The key consideration is that once you have your own in-house transmission capability, it becomes much easier to switch engine suppliers because you are no longer dependent on a package deal. It also gives you complete freedom in car design and concept.

The above steps could happen even if Mercedes powers the AMR26 in 2026, but the bespoke engine would be Stroll’s final step towards independence. If anyone can figure out how to get an Aston chassis to run a Honda engine – with or without the latter’s official badge – then Stroll is certainly the one who can make it happen.

There’s also a bigger picture to cover those complex branding issues, especially when you start thinking about “Team Silverstone” or “Stroll F1.”

lawrence stroll

lawrence stroll

Photography: Erik Junius

The former Racing Point organization is now known as Aston Martin, as part of Stroll’s marketing plan for the road car manufacturer. After five years on the green, there’s nothing stopping him from changing tack in 2026, successfully boosting Aston’s profile.

In theory, Stroll could use any chassis name he wants in 2026, provided it secures him an exclusive deal with the most successful powerplant manufacturer currently on the grid. If that means giving up Aston’s identity, so be it.

It even opens up the possibility that Honda might once again own (or co-own) a work force under its own name and run by Stroll.

The appeal of the Honda is obvious, as it represents a clean sheet of paper. A reunion with McLaren will have to overcome an embarrassing history linked to a divorce in 2017, while a tumultuous split with Williams came in 1987 – that was a lifetime ago – and Grove may just be deemed not competitive enough . As Vowles pointed out, time is ticking, and Honda can’t wait to see if Williams improves in the next year or two.

Aston, by contrast, has shown it has made real progress and with the move to a new factory – and more time for a restructured technical staff to coalesce under Fallows – it could reasonably It is assumed that there is greater potential to be tapped in the coming years.

Stroll has a trump card in Martin Whitmarsh, his right-hand man at Aston.

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal, McLaren

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal, McLaren

Photography: Andrew Ferraro / motorsport pictures

Whitmarsh worked at McLaren-Honda during the Ayrton Senna era and a little over two decades after parting ways with the Japanese manufacturer for the first time, he oversaw the development that led to the 2015 Reunion negotiations.

In 2014, McLaren ran under the new regulations for a season with a Mercedes hybrid engine before Honda entered. In retrospect, it’s easy to suggest that the Woking team should have stayed with their old mates longer, not least because Mercedes had the best engine early in the rules.

However, in an interesting parallel to Aston’s current situation, Whitmarsh remains adamant that McLaren must accept a factory deal from Honda when available. Continuing as a Mercedes customer was not an option in the long term, and not just because Ron Dennis had a falling out with then-Stuttgart boss Dieter Zetsche.

“It was a reasonable solution for a few years,” Whitmarsh told me a few years ago, before returning to F1 with Aston.

“But good, competitive engineering deals don’t come around very often. You have to get it. You want to win every year. But in the end, you have to win long-term. You have to live with that pain.”

Crucially, given his current status in Japan, Whitmarsh parted ways with McLaren quickly and was not involved in the disastrous implosion of his relationship with Honda in the ensuing years.

“I signed the contract and walked away,” he said. “They give free engines, they give tens of millions of dollars a year for chassis development. They pay most of the drivers, they pay the PR. That’s worth over $100 million a year to the team. We knew we needed this A lot of money, we need jobs to win.”

McLaren MP4-30 nose, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia

McLaren MP4-30 nose, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia

Photography: Mark Sutton

Because he wasn’t part of the McLaren fallout. To be sure, Whitmarsh has a good relationship with Honda, and he knows better than most what it takes to seal a deal. It probably didn’t hurt that Honda also knew Aston technical director Fallows from his Red Bull days.

“They actually have a racing culture, probably more than any OEM,” said Honda’s Whitmarsh. “Remember, Mr. Honda was alive for the first time. But they still have that racing culture in the team. They are as thorough as they are, they are as proud as they are.

“When you look at engines that have won in F1, they’ve usually done it by improving on tradition rather than by huge innovation. Usually, when you’re a manufacturer or someone trying to innovate, it’s a mess. I think you learn the lesson , and steered it. Honda was slow on that front. But Ron went into aggressive mode, and that’s when people shut down. Instead of managing them, he decided to hit them.”

There is also an elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. Current Aston driver Fernando Alonso is in the middle of a breakdown in the McLaren/Honda relationship, and while there are some oddities going on, a reunion between the Spaniard and the Japanese firm may need some massage.

Of course, that’s assuming the two-time F1 world champion will still be racing in 2026, the year he’ll turn 45…

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Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa




Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

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Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag




McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared




Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences


Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg




engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles






twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place


second place


third place


fourth place


the fifth place


sixth place


Number 7


number 8




No. 10


These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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