MONACO (AP) — World champion Max Verstappen considers Honda’s decision to team up with Aston Martin in 2026 “a bit of a shame” given its successful relationship with Red Bull.
Honda officially pulled out as a works program with Red Bull after 2021 — the year Verstappen won the first of his two world titles — and since then Honda has worked as a technical partner for Red Bull and its junior team AlphaTauri.
But the Japanese manufacturer announced its return as a factory F1 supplier with Aston Martin in 2026, when F1 introduces new engine regulations in a bid to become carbon neutral by 2030.
“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 Thursday at the Monaco Grand Prix. “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 was lured back into a more prominent role because of the upcoming new regulations starting in 2026 — when engines will have an engine/electric motor maximum power output ratio of 50/50 and use 100% sustainable fuel.
“For Aston Martin as well, it’s really good, they have a great engine, we all know that,” he said. “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.”
Ford plans to return to F1 in 2026, with Red Bull.
“We are also very excited from our side from 2026 onwards to see what’s going to happen together,” said Verstappen, who won an F1 record 15 races last year and has 38 victories overall.
Despite being only 25 years old, he’s already won six more races than 41-year-old Fernando Alonso, who is Aston Martin’s star driver.
Two-time F1 champion Alonso is in exceptional form, despite his advancing years. He has four third-place finishes from five races this season and is third in the standings.
However, things did not go smoothly when the Spanish driver worked with Honda during a dismal spell at McLaren, when Alonso was at times critical of the car’s performance in what he now calls “a project that maybe was not fully ready.”
Alonso says he has no problem at all working with Honda again, and views Honda’s return in a far brighter light.
“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 Thursday. “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.”
Alonso will be 44 when Honda teams up with Aston Martin and isn’t certain he’ll still be racing.
“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,” he said. “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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