McLaren Honda F1 reunion mooted

A McLaren Honda reunion has been mooted

A McLaren Honda reunion has been mooted

Reports emanating from the United Kingdom suggest that McLaren and Honda could rekindle their hugely successful F1 relationship.

The pair combined to dominate Formula 1 in the late 1980s and early 1990s before the Japanese marque withdrew from the sport.

Honda has since returned, initially with McLaren, before winning three world championships with Red Bull – two drivers’ crowns with Max Verstappen, and the 2022 constructors’ championship.

While it has enjoyed success with the Milton Keynes squad, it endured a tough time with its former partner from 2015 to 2017.

At the time, the power units were underpowered and unreliable with the relationship between the two organisations turning sour.

That saw it switch its attention to the Red Bull camp.

However, with Red Bull set to switch to its own Ford-branded power units for 2026, and AlphaTauri to do likewise, Honda is currently without a team to supply when F1’s next generation of engine rules takes effect.

Last week, the FIA released a list of six manufacturers who have signed up to produce power units under the new regulations.

Honda was among that list, as were new arrivals Audi, Red Bull Ford, and the incumbents Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault.

Limited options for Honda

All of those manufacturers have relationships with teams for 2026, aside from Honda.

Of those, Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Audi, and Red Bull Ford all have factory teams.

That leaves McLaren, Aston Martin, Haas, and Williams as ‘independent’ operations.

Aston Martin and Williams both have deep relationships with Mercedes while Haas has a close technical deal with Ferrari – indeed, its design team is based in Maranello.

McLaren meanwhile has a deal with Mercedes but does not have the same sort of relationship as the others.

Williams buys in more than just power units, as allowed under the regulations, while Aston Martin has links via its road car business to the three-pointed star.

There are no such obstacles at McLaren, making it the most obvious team for Honda to approach with a view to 2026.

McLaren Honda appeal

According to The Race, initial contact has been made between the two organisations, rekindling the relationship that won titles nearly 35 years ago, but which proved disastrous from 2015 to 2017.

McLaren currently has a supply of customer engines, and while that cost is fixed under the regulations, a factory supply is typically preferred for a number of reasons.

The simplest is the financial aspect, with the manufacturer bearing the cost of development, maintenance, and supply.

Beyond that, there is the ability to have a greater influence on the design process, allowing for better packaging and integration in the chassis itself.

That can have benefits when it comes to aerodynamics, weight distribution, and cooling.

Factory power units are therefore an intriguing proposition, especially given the infrastructure projects set to come online later this year as McLaren works to re-establish itself at the front of the Formula 1 field.

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