Honda open to working with Alonso again in the future: “We highly respect him”

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The Japanese manufacturer has officially confirmed it will be teaming up with Aston Martin as a works partner from 2026 onwards.

The announcement of the deal has prompted questions regarding Aston Martin’s latest signing, Fernando Alonso.

Photo credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

The Spanish driver previously worked with Honda power during his McLaren stint in the mid to late 2010s. Honda’s PU at the time proved to be underpowered and unreliable, often causing the increasingly frustrated Alonso to verbally lash out. One of the most notable incidents include the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix, where, in the manufacturer’s home race, Alonso called the underperforming power unit a “GP2 engine.”

Speaking to the media in early 2017, Alonso blamed McLaren’s struggles on the engine manufacturer: “We have only one problem: that is the power unit. There is no reliability and there is no power.”

After the relationship between McLaren and Honda soured, the manufacturer moved on and collaborated with Red Bull-owned teams from 2018. They went on to win the 2021 World Championship with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, becoming the first engine manufacturer to beat Mercedes in the turbo-hybrid era.

Honda Racing Corporation President Koji Watanabe and Honda Motor CEO Toshihiro Mibe have assured that there is no bad blood on their end, and that they would be open to working with Alonso in the future, should he still be racing with Aston Martin in 2026.

“A genius driver.”

“The past is the past. Alonso is a super talented driver, and we highly respect him. Regarding 2026… it’s in the future, so we can’t say anything about the driver, but I would like to leave the driver selection up to the team.

“We have been accelerating our development during all our recent time in Formula 1, while working with Alonso, and that enabled us to win the World Championship.

“The [final decision regarding the driver lineup] will be up to the team. Of course, we would be giving them suggestions or input. There are Japanese drivers, as well as the HRC drivers… we would like them to become candidates.

“If the team decides we’ll have Alonso as a driver again, we will have no objections whatsoever in him driving.”

Photo credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

Alonso’s current deal sees him committed to the Silverstone-based team until 2024. However, given both Aston and Alonso’s current form, the Spaniard may be tempted to sign an extension.

“Clearly Fernando is doing a great job in the team and I’m delighted to have him as part of our team as he’s making a great contribution both on and off the track,” said Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies Martin Whitmarsh.

“Obviously I spoke to Fernando a while ago about the direction we wanted to go. He’s a very intelligent individual, I’m sure everyone here is referring to some comments that were made in the heat of the battle once, which were quite memorable for some, but I think he understands and respects what Honda is doing.

“They are a great partner for us, and I think Fernando sees that.”

Whitmarsh added that keeping Alonso motivated by giving him a competitive car is the key to retaining him for the future.

“2026, who knows, it’s probably outside his planning horizon, at the moment. We’ve got to give him a car that is consistently capable of winning races. As I hope you’ve observed, we’ve made a reasonable step forward this year, we’re not yet where we need to be but we’re continuing to develop the team’s facilities and we’ll get stronger. And we’ll 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 would 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.”