As we gear up for an electrifying 2023 Formula 1 season, Honda, renowned for its power unit prowess on the racing circuit, has confirmed a dramatic return to the sport, teaming up with Aston Martin. They had bowed out of the game at the end of 2021, but the FIA’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030 prompted this high-profile comeback.
There’s a significant shake-up in the wind for Formula 1. By 2026, new regulations will push the boundaries of electrical efficiency in F1 engines. Koji Watanabe, president of Honda Racing Corporation, shed light on this critical development, saying:
“In pursuit of its goal in achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, starting in the 2026 season the FIA will mandate the use of 100% carbon-neutral fuel and the deployment of electrical power will be increased significantly by three times from the current regulations.
“With this massive increase in electrical power, the key to winning in F1 will be a compact, lightweight and high-power motor with a high-performance battery that is capable of swiftly handling high power output as well as the energy-management technology.
“We believe this know-how gained from this new challenge has the potential to be applied directly to a future mass-production electric vehicle.”
Since 2014, when hybrid engines made their debut, Honda has played a major role in F1. The upcoming FIA regulations signal a shift toward more electric solutions. Watanabe emphasizes that the electrical power requirement will leap from the current 20% or less to a whopping 50% or more, marking a significant step toward electrification. Honda envisages that the technical knowledge acquired from these rules can be channelled into mass-produced electric vehicles in the future.
AMF1 Team has today announced it is entering into a works partnership with Honda from 2026.
The Japanese manufacturer will supply power units to the team from the 2026 season.
Find out more below.
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) May 24, 2023
The F1 cost cap now envelops engines, making long-term and consistent participation in F1 more feasible. This hasn’t escaped Watanabe, who underscored the shared ambition between Honda and Aston Martin’s F1 team.
Martin Whitmarsh, the CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, is thrilled about the partnership. He believes both organizations share a relentless ambition to achieve track success.
“Aston Martin is building a team to win in F1. We have been recruiting the right people and investing in the required facilities and developing the right culture and processes to win.
“To partner a global motorsport titan like Honda is an extremely exciting and important further step for the team. Both organisations share the same relentless ambition to succeed on track. We are very proud, honoured and grateful to put in place this partnership.”
With the partnership’s establishment, Aston Martin bids farewell to their relationship with Mercedes and steps up to manufacturing gearbox and suspension components. Despite acknowledging the challenge, Whitmarsh views it as an essential step forward.
“Fernando sees that,” Whitmarsh said, referring to the legendary driver Fernando Alonso whose future hangs in the balance due to his age. But Whitmarsh is hopeful for Alonso’s continued participation:
“We have made a reasonable step forward. We are not yet where we need to be but we will get stronger. We will have a discussion before 2026, I’m sure, about where Fernando’s future lies.
“I hope he’ll be around for a number of years and it’d be great if he’s as fit and competitive as he is today. Then it would be fantastic to have him in the car in 2026 as well.”
In the pursuit of carbon neutrality, Honda’s re-entry into Formula 1 is a noteworthy development, and with Aston Martin by their side, it’s going to be a fascinating journey to observe in the upcoming years.