Honda Is Willing to Work With Fernando Alonso Again

·3 min read
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Honda Is Willing to Work With Fernando AlonsoBSR Agency - Getty Images

The last time Honda and Fernando Alonso worked together, things did not go well. This was when Honda supplied the McLaren Formula 1 team with power units that were underpowered and unreliable, at one point infamously leading the Spanish driver to dub the Honda a "GP2 engine." Alonso and McLaren's constant attacking of Honda led McLaren looking elsewhere for power units and lots of bad blood between all involved parties. Now, though, there's a chance for an Alonso-Honda reunion.

Yesterday, Aston Martin and Honda announced a works engine partnership for the 2026 F1 season. Alonso is currently driving for Aston Martin, and while he's not currently contracted to drive for them in 2026, this new partnership means there's a chance he may yet again drive a Honda-powered car.

"When it comes to Alonso, there were times in the past where we did have difficulty, that is true," said Koji Watanabe, Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) president in a roundtable with U.S. media. "However, since then we have teamed up with Red Bull and we were able to clinch the World Championship title. We do recognize that Alonso is a very outstanding driver, and as for Honda, we respect him, and of course, it's up to the team to decide the drivers, but should he be selected, we will welcome him."

It's a pretty stunning statement from Watanabe. Honda executives were deeply offended by Alonso's comments, and when the Spaniard made his second attempt at the Indy 500, he had to run a car with a Chevrolet engine because Honda didn't want to work with him in any capacity. Furthermore, when McLaren set up an IndyCar team with the Honda-powered Schmidt-Peterson motorsports, it also had to switch to Chevy power.

Of course, this all hinges on whether Alonso will actually drive for Aston Martin in 2026. At 44, he's already the oldest driver on the grid, so retirement remains a possibility. But if his quality of driving remains at his exceptionally high standard and Aston Martin-Honda can give him a title-challenging car, it's easy to see him stick around. Aston Martin racing CEO Martin Whitmarsh says the team is open to keeping him in its roster.

"I think this stems from something Fernando said in the heat of battle a few years ago, which was regrettable, but I think Fernando... has developed not only as a driver, but in his thinking about being a team member since that time," Whitmarsh said. "I'm sure if he was driving with the same energy and commitment and skill speed in 2026, we'd be delighted to have him on the team. However, 2026 is a few years away yet. We haven't decided our driver line up and I'm sure we'll have conversations with Fernando about that, but I think it's a few years away before we decide our driver lineup."

To reiterate, this doesn't mean an Alonso-Honda reunion is imminent, but Honda won't block it either. If Alonso could deliver a world title for Aston Martin and Honda—and that's a relatively large if—that would undo a lot of the previous damage done to the relationship. And if Alonso is Honda's best bet at achieving those aims, it would be shortsighted to block him, no matter what happened in the past. Alonso also knows well-enough that Honda is now capable of building title-winning engines. If Honda can give him a chance to fight for a third title, he'd be foolish not to work with the company. Still, 2026 is a ways away.

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