Honda has registered as an engine manufacturer for Formula 1 from 2026. But that doesn't mean the Japanese are sure to return. The direction of Formula 1 is correct, but no definitive decision has yet been made, the Japanese manufacturer said. Only so much: Several teams approached Honda.
Honda never really let go. The Japanese manufacturer officially left Formula 1 at the end of 2021. But since then, Red Bull and Alpha Tauri have continued to be reliably supplied with engines. Honda builds the power unit to order, Honda supplies it, Honda engineers use it on the race track. The agreement is valid up to and including 2025.
In the new season, Honda will even be officially listed as an engine manufacturer again. "Honda RBPT" is now in the entry list. The abbreviation stands for the new engine manufacturer Red Bull Powertrains, with which Ford is allying from 2026. The Americans join Red Bull to jointly develop the engine of the future. The companies are separated from each other. Honda produces its engines in its own factory. Intellectual property remains firmly in Honda hands.
Honda still without a definitive decision
In addition to Red Bull Ford, Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine, Audi and Honda have also signed up for the new engine regulations. The Japanese are openly flirting with a comeback from 2026. As a registered manufacturer, Honda is at the table during the negotiations. You had to pay a fee for this. However, a real re-entry is not yet decided. "We have not made a final decision until now," says the Honda camp.
But interest in Formula 1 is great. The direction is right. With the new engine regulations from 2026, the premier class will drastically increase the proportion of electric vehicles. The e-machine should then be responsible for around 50 percent of the total output. A 100 percent sustainable fuel will make the V6 turbocharged engine greener. "CO₂ neutrality is a big goal for Honda. Formula 1 is making a big reallocation towards electrification. Their future direction fits our goals. That's why we signed up."
Honda is curious to find out where Formula 1 is actually going and what it will really look like in the future. So you want to be as close as possible. Honda is closely following the development of Formula 1 with its own eyes. And in the paddock, Honda's statements are being followed with great interest. "Several Formula 1 teams have contacted us since registration," reveals the Japanese manufacturer.
McLaren back with Honda?
It can be speculated. There really aren't that many free teams in the current field. Mercedes customers Aston Martin, McLaren and Williams are the first to come to mind.Haas would first have to loosen his strong ties with Ferrari to even be considered for Honda. The previous partner Red Bull has set up its engine department in such a way that the new partner Ford could supply itself, sister Alpha Tauri and two other teams with engines.
With Sauber (to Audi), Ferrari has already lost a customer team from 2026. Mercedes is also threatened with a loss. And thus one less source of income. When asked about the rumors about Honda, one of the possible candidates is covered. McLaren boss Zak Brown and team boss Andrea Stella can not look at the cards. "We have a great relationship with Mercedes. We're not in a hurry. There are so many big manufacturers in Formula 1 in 2026. Andrea and I will explore over the year how we as McLaren can best position ourselves from 2026 and beyond."
The last marriage between McLaren and Honda broke up at the end of 2017. Not infrequently, the team from Woking publicly pilloried the engine partner. But we also experienced golden times together. Between 1988 and 1991, McLaren-Honda celebrated four World Championship series. Should Honda actually decide to return, it will most likely be classed as an existing manufacturer. After all, Formula 1 has always remained strongly connected despite the official exit. Compared to complete newcomers like Audi, that would mean cuts in development resources.