Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Albert Park, Australia, 2023

Honda are open to reuniting with Alonso, 11 years after his ‘GP2 engine’ remark

2026 F1 season

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Honda said they are prepared to reunite with Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso after announcing a deal to supply the team’s engines from 2026.

The Japanese engine manufacturer said they won’t influence Aston Martin’s choice of drivers once the two join forces.

Alonso caused embarrassment at Honda when he criticised their engines on home ground during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix, when he raced for them and McLaren. His description of their power unit as being a “GP2 engine” – referring to F1’s leading junior series at the time – quickly gained notoriety.

The two-times world champion joined Aston Martin this season on a multi-year contract. The 41-year-old has enjoyed his most successful start to a campaign in 16 years, taking four podiums from the first five grands prix, and has indicated he intends to continue racing.

Alonso lambasted Honda’s “GP2 engine” as he fought in midfield
That could lead to a reunion between Alonso and Honda in 2026. Yesterday Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe said the manufacturer will not influence the team’s choice of drivers and is not opposed to joining forces with Alonso again.

“The selection of the drivers of the race is fully up to the team members and not something that a power unit supplier like us is supposed to be making,” said Watanabe in response to a question from RaceFans. “So we will be leaving up the driver selections to the team.”

Alonso raced with Honda power for three years before McLaren cut short their association with the manufacturer. Watanabe credits the driver’s contributions during that time for helping Honda be “able to win the world championship” with Red Bull in 2021.

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“I believe he is such a grand, respectable driver,” Watanabe said. “If we are to have Alonso again as our driver, we have no objections whatsoever in him driving.”

(L to R): Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Alonso has four podiums but Honda power has won every race
Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh brushed off “some comments that were made, probably in the heat of battle once, which were quite memorable I suppose for some,” and aid he had told Alonso of the team’s engine plans. He believes his driver “understands and respects what Honda are doing” and the progress they have made since they last worked together.

“Clearly Fernando’s doing a great job in the team, I’m delighted to have him as part of our team and he’s making a great contribution both on and off the track,” said Whitmarsh. “Obviously I spoke to Fernando a little while ago about the direction that we intended to go. He is a very intelligent individual.”

However Whitmarsh does not believe Alonso has considered his career plans as far as 2026 yet. “If he’s as fit and as competitive as he is today, then it would be fantastic to have him in the car in 2026”, he said, adding it is “probably outside his planning horizon” at the moment.

During F1’s current V6 hybrid turbo engine era, Honda has supplied McLaren and Red Bull’s two teams. Those partnerships did extend to signing and supporting drivers.

Honda juniors were incorporated into McLaren and Red Bull’s driver development programmes as well as members of those being sent to race for Honda-powered teams in Japan’s Super Formula series. Joint Red Bull and Honda junior Yuki Tsunoda has also spent the last three years racing for AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister team in F1.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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24 comments on “Honda are open to reuniting with Alonso, 11 years after his ‘GP2 engine’ remark”

  1. A bit far fetched

  2. I doubt he’d be racing in F1 by that point anymore, but not impossible.

    1. Yeah, going on for another 3-4 years at this level seems a bit of a stretch to me as well @jerejj. But I guess we’ll see.

    2. Agree but with this guy who knows? He’s “different”.

      He has an absurd amount of miles/experience under his belt in various types of race crafts. He has seen it all and knows how to use it to his advantage.

      He is extremely disciplined with his diet and fitness in general. He is also very intelligent – he speaks 4 languages:)

      I think he has enough talent to drive until he is tired of it but now that he is in a somewhat competitive car he has been rejuvenated and he could go another 4 or 5 years if he thinks a WDC is in reach .

      I agree with Prost’s assessment- he is the best all around driver on the grid and I think it is now evident.

      He is a better racer today than when he won his championships. Just give him a car that is competitive and he will win. And yes he can beat Max.

      Go get ‘em Nando!

      1. It’s really impressive: yes, schumacher had several issues on his comeback, he had some sort of neck injury, 3 years out of the sport are a serious handicap and he was 41 already the first of the 3 years, which is well beyond his peak; alonso wasn’t away as long and kept racing in other series in the meantime, that probably makes the difference, but he’s still performing at top level at a similar age, I don’t really know of any other recent driver who at 42 (almost) it feels like he’s still extracting from the car what he was extracting at 26 or so.

        Now, I think fangio was like 47 before he retired and he was still very fast, but that was a different era, he was competing with many drivers that were also much older than nowadays.

  3. Why not? if this trend continues and he is committed and fit, i dont see him quitting.
    He has a huge ego also and has something to prove, that all this years with unlucky decisions stopped him from winning more championships.
    Imagine if he is 45+ and still racing what AD revenue will be for Liberty… i hope Hamilton continue also for the same reasons even if he will leave MB.

  4. I feel that Alonso has changed a lot in his attitude and temper, maybe it may come back when he is fighting for a championship but there are rarely a driver like Fernando who can perform like this at his age and I dont think he is gonna slow down, he is the kind of guy Aston needs the most right now, with Stroll they will never find the peak of the car.

  5. Electroball76
    24th May 2023, 8:02

    This time round he’ll have to say “FIA Formula 2 Championship engine!”

    1. Naw Honda won 2 Championships with Red Bull “FIA Formula 1 Champion engine!”

    2. He’d just cut it short to “f2 engine! F2!”, otherwise would be way too long to say compared to the historical team radio.

  6. The title needs to be corrected…

    That being said, there’s no proper answer to the question posed by the title in the body of the text…

  7. 11 years…? Wow, where has my life gone

    1. I thought that too!

    2. Pfff, alonso was at ferrari 11 years ago! It didn’t seem that old and indeed it isn’t, it’s 8 years ago, 2015.

    3. Or well, if you mean reuniting 11 years after, then ofc, 2026, but in that case it doesn’t feel like 11 years because they haven’t passed yet, to me.

  8. I doubt Alonso will be around by the time Honda enters the sport again… but for some reason if he’s still around.. I reckon it will be 2015 all over again.

    1. Why? Aston Martin may mess up the chassis like McLaren did in 2015?

      With Whitmarsh around, that is a possibility.

      1. The engine and the chassis were both dogs. I know that McLaren’s chassis packaging increased the unreliability, but Honda’s unwillingness to employ anyone but Japanese powertrain engineers wasn’t helping.

  9. I too kind of doubt that Alonso will be racing in 2026. With the big changes that are happening in 2026, the end of 2025 might be a good time for him to stop. In F1 at least. I think it will depend very much though on what happens between now and then and what he achieves.

    With all of these engine partner changes though, it does look like 2026 might be one of those years where we might get a surprise champion or constructor. Just based on one team, perhaps unexpectedly being able to access the best engine.

  10. Lance will have the best engine while Alonso receives one that has a little less power on the dyno. Kind of like Max and Checo.

    1. That’s just not true; if that were true it’d imply perez is more talented than verstappen, if so why was he overlooked in the midfield for so long, while verstappen flew straight to a top team?

  11. Was there ever any doubt?

    It was said he would never drive for McLaren again or race in a car powered by Merc engines for his part in Spygate.

    And Honda would blackball him for his past criticism of their power plant.

    If I have learned anything in my old age it is money rules above all else. If Alonso is still around and driving as good as he is now, Honda will welcome him back with open arms.

    It’s all about money.

  12. Things have changed from then.

    Honda has titles, Alonso wants some, a lot different when Honda wanted a driver with titles.

  13. Let’s be honest, calling that 2015 Honda power unit a GP2 engine was a compliment!

Comments are closed.