As Porsche won’t return to F1, will Honda return in 2026?
Written by Gen Flauta, Edited by Simran Kanthi
The tie-up between Red Bull and Porsche is officially dead. Porsche would have liked to have an equal footing within the partnership by acquiring 50% of Red Bull Advanced Technologies (which develops and produces Red Bull's F1 cars). On top of that, Porsche initially wanted to be involved not only as an engine supplier by working with Red Bull Powertrains, but also by operating as a team. But that led to the collapse of the talks between the two parties, as Red Bull Racing was disinclined by the idea of the German sports car maker.
While Red Bull team boss Christian Horner acknowledged that "Porsche is a great brand," he remarked that in comparison to Porsche, Red Bull's "DNA is quite different. During the discussion process, it became clear that there was a strategic non-alignment." On Porsche's side, they've made it clear that "the premise was always that a partnership would be based on an equal footing, which would include not only an engine partnership but also the team." But with Red Bull insisting on its full independence over its F1 destiny, Porsche concluded that the partnership with the Austrian team "could not be achieved."
Now that the deal with Porsche is off the table, what could this mean for Honda?
While the Japanese manufacturer officially withdrew from the sport last season, it still supplies engines for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri, under Honda Racing Corporation (HRC). In fact, HRC has recently agreed to a supply extension with Red Bull until the end of the 2025 season. "Thank God there has been a change in thinking from the Japanese," Helmut Marko, Red Bull Advisor, praised Honda to Motorsport.com. "In the original plan, we would have had to run the engines ourselves from 2023 onwards. But then you also need spare parts and 90% of those suppliers are in Japan," Marko added.
While Red Bull is busy developing its own F1 engines before the engine regulation changes in 2026, there seems to be a possibility that Honda could be involved again as both parties are currently under negotiations about the reunion. Especially since Marko has said that he "will be flying to Tokyo between the Singapore and Suzuka races in early October," where the latter will be sponsored by, you guessed it, Honda.
I have a theory that Honda will sponsor the Red Bull cars (which I think they should), with both the "H" and "e Technology" badges present. The reason behind my theory is that Honda is sponsoring its home race at the Suzuka Circuit (it also owns the track), and there is a chance that Max Verstappen and Red Bull could wrap up the Championship titles if those aren't achieved in Singapore already.
While nothing has been confirmed so far, it seems that Honda has regretted leaving F1, especially given the fact that its engines (under Red Bull Powertrains) have led to Verstappen and Red Bull dominance throughout the 2022 season and are set to be crowned World Champions (without Honda's main presence). With the simplified engine rules for 2026, which include the removal of the MGU-H and much lower cost structures, Honda will be enticed to reconsider entering the sport again. Perhaps not only as an engine supplier but also as a works team. But if it is with Red Bull, it would have to prevent the mishaps that Porsche has done when negotiating with the Austrian team, and it could likely be similar to what Mclaren was with Mercedes back in the late 1990s up until the late 2000s. Although, there were rumors that Honda could sponsor Red Bull again for the 2023 season, which would make sense if Red Bull's strong form would continue but in the meantime, it's all in Honda's hands.