How factory tour helped Aston Martin beat rivals in Honda F1 engine deal

How factory tour helped Aston Martin beat rivals in Honda F1 engine deal

Honda says it has had “superb” offers from many Formula 1 teams for a 2026 engine deal, but it was Aston Martin’s win-at-all-costs attitude that secured its contract.

The Japanese manufacturer announced on Wednesday morning that it would enter into an exclusive working relationship with Aston Martin from 2026, following the end of its current partnership with Red Bull.

The arrangement comes after Honda initially filed its interest in producing an engine for the 2026 rules last November, without having any clarity on the potential partners.

Reflecting on how negotiations progressed from there, Honda said several F1 teams had expressed their desire to join forces, before the final decision on what to do was made last month.

Honda chairman and chief executive Toshiro Mibe said many approaches were made after the company’s new engine plan was revealed, but Aston Martin quickly emerged as the best option.

“We’ve been approached by so many teams,” he said. “There were many discussions, debating whether we really wanted to participate in the 2026 race, and there were great and wonderful offers from different teams.

“But it was in particular the passionate bid from Aston Martin, and their determination to win no matter what, (it meant) that we were very moved. We thought their vision and passion was very similar to ours.

Honda Racing Corporation chairman Koji Watanabe has revealed negotiations with Aston Martin began as early as January.

But he says it was a factory visit to the team’s new £200m Silverstone base earlier this year that made him realize why teaming up with the team was the best option.

“We have had discussions with several teams in order to determine the future,” he explained.

“Through various discussions, we felt that Aston Martin had the greatest passion to win the championship.

“I was personally honored to visit the factory physically and see that they were investing in various areas, including personnel, and making steady progress.

“They also gave us high marks for our power unit capabilities, so it’s not just that Aston Martin needs us. We really wanted to work with Aston Martin. And that’s why we chose Aston Martin.

Honda with Astion Martin Racing F1 Team

Photo by: Aston Martin Racing

While Aston Martin’s attitude has impressed Honda bosses, the team itself remains realistic about the progress it needs to make over the next few years if it is to realize its winning ambitions with Honda for 2026.

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Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh said: “We remain humble. We know we have a lot to achieve and a lot to learn from Honda and grow.

“But in this sport, unless you have a real passion, a desire, a thirst and a determination to win, you will not succeed. We are at the pinnacle of motorsport in the world.

“It’s extremely competitive. But we have absolute determination, Lawrence (Stroll), myself and all the other members of the team, we are here to win. And that’s what’s exciting.

“We also see that same passion and relentless drive at Honda, they are winners. And that’s why we were extremely attracted to this opportunity.

“So we’ve set ourselves a target, to win in 2026 and then win consistently after that. It’s a real tough battle to do that. But I think we’re very determined to be very competitive.

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