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Motor racing-Multiple F1 teams contact Honda for 2026 partnership

By:
Reuters
Updated: Feb 20, 2023, 10:21 UTC

By Alan Baldwin (Reuters) - Several teams have approached Honda about a partnership when Formula One's new engine era starts in 2026 but no decision has been taken about future involvement, the Japanese manufacturer said on Monday.

Motor racing-Multiple F1 teams contact Honda for 2026 partnership

By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) – Several teams have approached Honda about a partnership when Formula One’s new engine era starts in 2026 but no decision has been taken about future involvement, the Japanese manufacturer said on Monday.

Honda have an agreement to build engines in Japan for world champions Red Bull and sister team AlphaTauri but that will end in 2025.

Red Bull have set up their own powertrains company in Milton Keynes and this month announced a new partnership with Ford from 2026.

Honda, which officially withdrew from Formula One after powering Red Bull’s double world champion Max Verstappen to his first title in 2021, has registered to be one of six power unit suppliers from 2026-30.

“After we made the registration we have been contacted by multiple Formula One teams,” Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe told reporters in a Zoom briefing from Sakura headquarters on Monday.

“For the time being we would like to keep a close eye on where Formula One is going and just see how things go,” he added.

“For now we don’t have any concrete decisions on whether or not we will be going back to joining Formula One.

But…we think being part of Formula One is going to help us with technological development. So that is where we are.”

Watanabe said Formula One’s future direction was in line with Honda’s own target of carbon neutrality and increased electrification.

“That is why we have decided to register as manufacturer of a power unit,” he explained. “We are curious about where Formula One is going and how is that going to look with more electrification happening.”

Sustainable fuels

Formula One’s next generation of engines will retain the high-revving 1.6 litre V6s but with significantly more electric power and 100% sustainable fuels. The sport also has a target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

The power unit in this year’s Red Bull will have the Japanese carmaker’s name added to it so it changes from RBPT to Honda RBPT.

Tetsushi Kakuda, Honda’s F1 project leader and executive chief engineer, told reporters the company had worked to address reliability issues for 2023.

Verstappen won 15 of 22 races last season, and Red Bull 17 in all, but the Dutch driver retired from two of the first three rounds.

“Last year I believe all the power unit manufacturers prioritised performance in their development, and so did we,” said Kakuda. “We made every effort to recover the performance lost due to the E10 fuel introduced by the regulation change.

“But as a result the internal load to the engine increased significantly compared to the previous year and the reliability was severely compromised. As a result several problems surfaced during the 2022 season.”

He said Honda had further optimised control and energy management and worked with suppliers to improve the precision of parts and power unit assembly.

Yasuaki Asaki, general manager of Honda’s automobile racing development division, announced he would retire at the end of March.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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