Honda Welcomes Possible Reunion with Alonso in Aston Martin Partnership
Fernando Alonso and Honda, two giants of Formula 1, once known for their tense relationship, may find themselves reunited under the banner of Aston Martin in 2026.
Honda is open to the potential reassociation with Fernando Alonso in the context of its impending Formula 1 collaboration with Aston Martin, scheduled to begin in 2026.
Alonso’s existing contract with Aston Martin does not extend into 2026, leaving his F1 future uncertain, especially considering that he would be 44 years old at the start of the season. However, he has indicated that he might continue racing in F1 at least until the close of 2025.
The past relationship between Alonso and Honda was notably strained during Honda’s tenure as McLaren’s power supplier from 2015-2017. The tension was most visible when Alonso labeled the power unit as a “GP2 engine” over the radio during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix.
When queried about the potential return of Alonso to represent Honda in F1, Koji Watanabe, president of Honda Racing Corporation, made it clear that Aston Martin would be in charge of driver selection and Honda would not stand in Alonso’s way.
Watanabe acknowledged the role of Alonso in Honda’s recent successes in F1, including a world championship win. He stated, “During our recent stint in Formula 1, our development has been expedited thanks to working with Alonso, which contributed to our world championship victory.”
He stressed, however, that the ultimate choice of drivers would be made by Aston Martin. “If the team decides to recruit Alonso as a driver again, we would have absolutely no objections to him taking the wheel,” Watanabe said.
Further referring to Alonso as a “masterful driver,” Watanabe explained that Honda would share its opinions about driver selection with Aston Martin, despite ultimately leaving the final decision to them.
“We hold Alonso in high regard,” Watanabe added. “While we will not dictate team management decisions, we will indeed be involved in the discussions and offer our recommendations or input on driver selection.”
Toshiro Mibe, the current CEO of Honda, stated that he views the past as a separate entity and would prefer to entrust the team with the decisions related to driver selection.
Alonso’s tumultuous relationship with Honda dominated F1 discussions from 2015 to 2017 due to his frequent critiques of the underperforming and often unreliable power unit.
This discord even resulted in Honda Performance Development in North America refusing to provide engines for Alonso’s McLaren-led attempt at the Indianapolis 500 in 2019.
This incident occurred after Alonso’s 2017 race under the McLaren Andretti Honda team ended while he was in the seventh position and in contention for a win with only 21 laps left.
Despite this rocky history, Martin Whitmarsh, the CEO of Aston Martin group, insisted that Alonso’s potential role in the team was not a topic of discussion with Honda during their deal negotiations.
Whitmarsh also implied that planning for 2026 may be too premature, but he assured that previous remarks won’t jeopardize the potential for Alonso and Honda to reunite in the future.
Whitmarsh praised Fernando Alonso, stating, “Evidently, Fernando is performing exceptionally well and I’m thrilled to have him as part of our team as he’s making significant contributions both on and off the track.”
Whitmarsh recalled a discussion with Alonso about the team’s direction and commended him for his intelligence. He said, “I’m sure everyone here is referring to some comments that were made in the heat of the moment, which were quite memorable, but he acknowledges and respects what Honda is doing.”
Whitmarsh pointed out Honda’s successful track record, winning the world championships in 2021 and 2022, and expressed his belief that they will replicate this success unless his team can outperform them this year. “They make an excellent partner for us, and I believe Fernando recognizes this,” he added.
Whitmarsh admitted that 2026 might be too far in the future for Alonso’s current plans. He also recognized the team’s responsibility to provide Alonso with a consistently competitive car. He noted that the team has made some progress this year, and while they haven’t reached their goal, they are working to improve their facilities and will become stronger.
Whitmarsh concluded by saying, “I’m sure we’ll discuss Fernando’s future before 2026. I hope he will remain with us for many years and if he remains as fit and competitive as he is today, it would be fantastic to have him in the car in 2026 as well.”
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Despite Honda’s assurances that it will not meddle with driver selection, the nature of a works alliance, as described by Watanabe, inevitably entails discussions about the 2026 line-up, including Honda’s “suggestions and input”.
Given the strained past between Honda and Alonso from 2015-2017, it wouldn’t be unexpected if there were some apprehensions about Alonso. In the spirit of collaboration, Aston Martin would have to seriously consider any concerns expressed by Honda, regardless of the contract’s structure.
The whole discussion could become irrelevant if Alonso chooses not to continue racing in 2026. He cannot defy aging forever, and it might be an opportune moment to retire.
However, knowing Alonso’s competitive spirit, there’s a good chance he could still be performing at a high level and eager to capitalize on what is expected to be a competitive package.
However, Alonso’s preferences are not the only factor. Aston Martin’s substantial performance improvement in 2023 has already made it an attractive option for leading drivers.
Assuming its performance remains robust, its allure for potential drivers will only increase over the coming years, allowing Aston Martin to choose from several strong candidates.
Adding another layer of complexity is Lance Stroll. His father, Lawrence Stroll, has a vested interest in the Aston Martin F1 project, with a significant goal being to make Lance a world champion.
If this aspiration remains unaffected by the performance in the upcoming seasons, there’s a high possibility that Lance will continue to occupy one of the two seats in 2026.
This adds even more weight to the decision regarding the lead driver. While Stroll has proven himself to be a competent F1 driver, he has not yet demonstrated that he could join the ranks of the top-tier drivers.
Such considerations may lower the likelihood of Alonso serving as an Aston Martin-Honda driver in 2026. However, practical considerations, his current role, and the possibility that he could still be performing at a high level in ’24 and ’25 mean that he cannot be dismissed as a contender until he is definitively ruled out.
This is even more the case given the suggestions that he could have a prolonged role with the team that goes beyond his driving career in F1.
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