Honda and Aston Martin have announced a partnership that will make the British outfit the works team for the Japanese power unit supplier — which is a big leap for a team that has previously found success as a customer team for Mercedes. According to Martin Whitmarsh, Group CEO of the Aston Martin Performance Technologies, though, being a works team will be even more important with the introduction of the upcoming 2026 regulations.
“F1 cars are a pretty tightly packaged vehicle; therefore, decisions on power units in F1 isn’t just about combustion engines and turbos. It includes a range of other equipment that have a fairly significant impact on how you configure the car,” Whitmarsh explained in a press conference with journalists preceding the formal announcement.
“If you’re a customer team, you take what the works team has predetermined, and that’s often quite compromised to your own particular ambitions.”
Whitmarsh admitted that, as a current Mercedes customer team, Aston Martin does suffer from some of those limitations. The team has been able to utilize similar aerodynamic and suspension components compared to Mercedes, but it ultimately doesn’t get to dictate a form of PU development that would benefit Aston Martin’s current chassis strategy.
But Whitmarsh believes those issues will be of even greater importance in 2026 thanks to the increase in electrical power that will be coming from the engine.
“You have a finite amount of energy in an F1 car that needs to be deployed at various times and places around the track,” Whitmarsh said. As a result, an increase in electrical energy from the power unit completely alters the way a chassis will actually perform on the track. Energy deployment will be more consequential in 2026; therefore, Aston Martin wants to be able to develop its future car in line with the PU it will use.
“Honda is a titan of motorsport; they just won the last two World Championships, and unless we beat them, they’ll win this year’s Championship as well,” Whitmarsh said. “They’re doing a fantastic job, and that’s why we’re honored to have them as a partner and a prospect for the future.”