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Honda 2026 F1 project going "according to plan" with electrical power initial focus

Honda's 2026 Formula 1 engine development is "going according to plan" in preparation for its new partnership with Aston Martin, with initial focus granted to the electrical components.

Lawrence Stroll,  Toshihiro Sanbe,,President and CEO Honda Motor,Koji Watanabe, President of Honda Racing Corporation,,Martin Whitmarsh

Photo by: Motorsport.com / Japan

The Japanese marque has spent the past six seasons as Red Bull's powertrain partner and has achieved success through Max Verstappen's trio of drivers' titles, but has renewed its efforts for 2026 as Aston Martin becomes its works team.
With its knowledge of developing V6 internal combustion engines for the current rules, Honda has instead elected to pin its primary efforts on nailing down the electrical infrastructure. This changes to a near 50-50 split in ICE and electrical power underpinned by a 350kW MGU-K, while the turbo-mounted MGU-H has been omitted from the new ruleset. 
This differs from Red Bull's approach with its own in-house powertrain project, which is now in partnership with Ford as it splits from Honda at the end of 2025; Red Bull has started out by developing an all-new ICE from scratch.
"So far everything is going according to plan. Of course, we cannot go into too much detail, but everything is in line with our own expectations," explained HRC president Koji Watanabe in an exclusive interview with Autosport.
"We are initially focusing on the electrical side of the engine, so our focus now is mainly on the electric engine parts and on the battery.
"This work is completely in line with our own objectives. In parallel, we are of course developing the internal combustion engine, but at this stage, it is not yet a V6. It is now a single cylinder.
"So far everything is going according to plan. Of course, we cannot go into too much detail, but everything is in line with our own expectations."
Koji Watanabe, Honda Racing CEO

Koji Watanabe, Honda Racing CEO

Photo by: Motorsport.com / Japan

Although Honda officially left F1 as a full-factory power unit supplier at the end of 2021, it has retained its partnership with Red Bull through its racing division HRC and the continued build of its current power unit following a freeze to the regulations.
Watanabe explained that many of Honda's staff moved to other projects following the post-2021 partial exit, necessitating a series of new hires to bolster its new 2026 project. 
HRC has also registered a new company in the UK, with the intent of servicing and preparing the new 2026-spec powertrains for Aston Martin, although a location is yet to be determined. The United States-based HRC USA (formerly Honda Performance Developments), which heads up the brand's IndyCar engine project and Acura's IMSA efforts, will also become involved.
"When we announced that we would stop our F1 activities, most of the engineers left the F1 department. All important engineers have moved to other projects, including Honda Mobility," said Watanabe.
"As a result, we have had to fill all these positions again, although it is not entirely the same people. Some people are still the same, but it was a little more difficult for other positions and needs at least a little time."
"We have registered the [HRC UK] company, but have not decided on the exact location yet. We registered mainly because we want to hire staff in the United Kingdom. 
"Those things take time because you sometimes have to deal with a period of gardening leave. That is why we want to start hiring staff in England this summer and have already registered ourselves."

Watch: Newey Departure Confirmed - What's Next for Newey and Red Bull?

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