“We’re here to beat them”: Why Aston Martin is dropping Mercedes for Honda

2023 F1 season

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On the face of it, Aston Martin’s decision to split from long-time engine supplier Mercedes is a surprising call.

But the team is convinced its tie-up with Honda, which will begin in 2026, offers its best chance of delivering on its goal of competing for the world championship.

Speaking at the Miami Grand Prix the team’s technical director Dan Fallows made it clear Aston Martin has no concerns over the quality of the equipment and support they receive from Mercedes.

“We’re very happy with what we get,” said Fallows. “We obviously have gearbox and aspects of the rear suspension and power unit as well and we’ve been very happy with that.

“We as engineers obviously work around the constraints that we have. But so far, I’ve got absolutely no reason to wish we had anything else apart from what we get from them.”

However having to use parts which were designed for another car does place constraints on what the team can do. Speaking to media including RaceFans yesterday, Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh said the ability to tailor the power unit, it operation and that of its associated parts will be more important when Formula 1’s new engine regulations arrive.

“The 2026 technical regulations I think are really going to demand a very, very substantial full integration,” said Whitmarsh. “Not just the physical integration of components but the operational integration to be able to deliver and to win [to a] much greater extent.

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“In my view it is very difficult to win, consistently, championships without a full works relationship, which is why we’ve made this decision and why we’re delighted to have a fantastic partner like Honda.”

Stroll is determined to take Aston Martin to the top
Since the team was purchase by Lawrence Stroll in 2018 and rebranded as Aston Martin it has benefited from significant investment. It is in the process of completing the first phase of construction in a massive expansion of its Silverstone base, to which it plans to relocate the aerodynamic development it currently conducts in Mercedes’ wind tunnel.

Whitmarsh said the split from Mercedes was essential in order to give it the best chance of beating its competitors.

“Mercedes have been great partners for the team and they remain that. They’re in it to win and clearly we’re here to win as well. So ultimately, there is some incompatibility in those two missions.

“That’s why we’ve taken the decision. I think the first and obvious example was we currently share a wind tunnel with them and yet we’re having to spend a huge amount of money to build our own wind tunnel, which is only four or five miles from the wind tunnel, a quite adequate one, that we use.

“The nature of Formula 1 is if you want to win it means beating Mercedes and it’s extremely difficult to beat an organisation as good as Mercedes if you’re reliant on them for intellectual property facilities, components.

“‘Team Silverstone’, as you know, has got a great tradition of delivering a big bang for small bucks. But we are in a different position now. The Aston Martin brand, the ambition of Lawrence Stroll and now great partners like Honda, we are here to win and therefore you’ve got to have the complete integration of facilities and process and approach.”

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Aston Martin’s deal with Honda has come about despite the close technical co-operation between its road car company and Mercedes. Whitmarsh admitted the new arrangement “doesn’t fit” exactly.

“Aston Martin Lagonda is a public company, one of its shareholders is Mercedes-Benz and a significant proportion of its power units for the road cars comes from Mercedes Benz,” said Whitmarsh. “That is planned to continue.

“We are purely focussed on racing activities and we’ve chosen to partner Honda so we will be absolutely just focussed on winning in Formula 1 with Honda and Aston Martin Lagonda will continue to develop its own strategy.”

Although Aston Martin is leading Mercedes in the championship after the first five races of the season, Whitmarsh is certain they must split from their supplier in order to beat them.

“This is about the growing up of this team,” he said. “You set out to win in Formula 1, that means beating existing partners and that means in order to do that, we’ve got to be independent.

“We’re building great facilities and we’re progressively pulling away from our dependence upon Mercedes-Benz. That’s no reflection on them, they’ve done a fantastic job for us, they continue to do a great job for us. But clearly we’re here to beat them and that means we’ve got to be self-reliant.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on ““We’re here to beat them”: Why Aston Martin is dropping Mercedes for Honda”

  1. With the new cutting edge facility and this, it looks like Aston Martin will stay as forerunners for a longer time. Too bad that one of their cars will forever be tenanted by Lance.

    1. Eventually, the engine supplier will have a word with Papa Stroll to get his son removed… at that time Lance will sell his team with a slight profit and ask his son to pursue a career more suited to his talents.

      1. From your comment it is obvious that you have no clue as to who owns the team and who drives the cars. And who told you that the leader of the consortium that owns the team is one of the Smurfs?

  2. Good move AM!

    No whining, politicking or trying to get the rules changed, just bold decisions Andrew ambition. Love it, hope that when RB dominance ends it is AM to pick up the crown.

    1. ‘and raw ambition’

  3. I wonder if they’re going to start building their own gearbox; when you use a customer gearbox you have to run the same ratios as the supplier and the Honda engine might require different gearing. I believe Aston also use the Mercedes rear suspension; if they’re going off on their own it would seem suspension mounting points would probably be different from the customer box.

    1. They surely will have to do that, right. I cannot imagine them being able to use a Mercedes Gearbox and rear end with the Honda engine @stever.

      1. I’m sure that won’t be a problem with AM’s legendary scanning and reverse engineering abilities! ;)

  4. On one hand I love that AM are severing ties with Merc

    On the other hand it amuses me no end to watch the AMs beating the Mercs every race weekend with their own engine

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