F1 GP Japan, the Honda logo returns to F1: this is how Red Bull is preparing for 2026

The Japanese manufacturer announces an extension of the partnership with Red Bull and AlphaTauri. A possible hint of the future after the breakdown of negotiations for Porsche engines?

Giulio Caronia

Honda is officially making its return to Formula 1, assuming it ever really left. The Japanese manufacturer, which this weekend hosts the GP circus at home, on the Suzuka track and from title sponsor of the event, in fact announced that it had intensified the technical and commercial collaboration partnership with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri. By now for 17 grands prix (and, that is, from the beginning of the championship) the two teams formally race in F1 with a power unit built on their own in the Milton Keynes plant. In reality, it is no mystery that the Red Bull Powertrains engine (RBPT in the official FIA documents) is nothing more than a rebranding than the Honda one that has pushed Max Verstappen since 2019, up to the conquest of the Drivers’ title last season.

THE RED BULL-HONDA PARTNERSHIP

It is not even a mystery that, after the withdrawal of the Japanese manufacturer – in 2020 he had communicated his intention to leave F1 to concentrate resources and attention on the electrification of the car range – the close collaboration relationship with the Austrian team has continued under the radar through HRC, the Honda sports division that manages, among others, Marc Marquez’s MotoGP team. Initially with the aim of helping Red Bull Powertrains, not only by providing the know-how but also by committing to support the team, at least in the 2022 of the difficult transition, in the supply of spare parts, in the assembly in the factory and in the operational management to edge of the track of the Japanese turbo V6s.

FROM HONDA TO HRC AND BACK

A partnership certified by the appearance of the HRC logos on the bodywork of the RB18 and AT03 in place of the Honda brand and which, a few weeks ago, was further extended. If, initially, the agreement for technical and operational support was to be limited to 2022 only, with Red Bull Powertrains autonomous in the management of the engine bequeathed by Honda in fact “frozen” in developments, in recent weeks the collaboration had been officially extended up to the entire 2025 World Cup, the last championship with the current technical regulation on engines. Now, the further step: the Honda logos will return to make their appearance on the cars of Verstappen, Perez, Gasly and Tsunoda starting from the Japanese GP on Sunday, while the Mexican, fresh winner in Singapore, will become testimonial of the program for young talents Honda Racing School. Finally, all four drivers, representing Red Bull and AlphaTauri, will attend the HRC Thanks Day, on November 27th, the annual party to celebrate the brand’s sporting achievements.

THE WORDS OF MARKO AND HORNER

“Red Bull and Honda – explained Helmut Marko – have achieved great successes together. After this new agreement, we are proud to continue side by side with HRC’s technical support until the next generation of engines, which will debut in 2026. We are confident that this partnership will allow us to reach other milestones in the next three years ”. “We are grateful to Honda – added Red Bull team principal Christian Horner – for providing us with such a competitive engine in recent years and the goal remains to continue to collect as many successes as possible. To emphasize this gratitude, we are happy to welcome back the Honda logo, which will be on the back of our car from Suzuka onwards ”.

HONDA IN PLACE OF PORSCHE?

But what could the reappearance of the Honda logos on the bodywork of Red Bull and AlphaTauri mean? After the breakdown of negotiations with Porsche – the Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, had spoken about a “courageous choice” by rivals to reject the agreement with the German manufacturer – Helmut Marko himself had made no secret of being in the process to undertake new talks with the Japanese giant, to test the ground for a possible direct return to F1 starting from 2026. Extending the successful partnership with Honda would in fact give Milton Keynes the opportunity to remain independent (an aspect not taken for granted with Porsche, which instead it claimed to buy 50% of the team’s shares) but to be, at the same time, directly and exclusively, supported by a giant of the automotive industry.



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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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