Are McLaren and Honda getting back together in 2026?

McLaren and Honda getting back together in 2026?

Are McLaren and Honda getting back together in 2026?McLaren and Honda are reportedly in the initial phase of discussions for a potential Formula 1 tie-up on the power unit front in 2026, when the new engine regulations kick in.

Honda came back into F1 with McLaren in 2015, one year after the turbo-hybrid era of the sport began, and remained together until 2017.

The three F1 seasons the two spent together were a nightmare as Honda struggled to deliver a powerful and reliable power unit for McLaren, which meant the relationship ended badly at the end of 2017.

After that, Honda moved on with Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2018, while the Japanese power unit were bolted to Red Bull machinery from 2019 onwards.

Honda’s second spell in the turbo-hybrid era was more successful and peaked in 2021 when Max Verstappen won his first F1 Drivers’ Crown with a Honda power-unit bolted to his RB16B that year.

While Honda decided to leave F1 again at the end of 2021, as their top management wanted to focus more on carbon neutral technologies for the road cars, but agreed to continue supplying their power-units to Red Bull in 2022 winning the Title double with the Milton Keynes outfit.

Another change for McLaren-Honda?

Now for 2026, where a new generation of power-units is planned for F1, Honda have been announced by the FIA as one of six power-unit manufacturers that have registered for 2026. The other five are Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Ford, Alpine, and newcomers Audi.

But with Red Bull announcing that they will be joining forces with Ford in 2026, questions started emerging regarding Honda’s F1 future beyond 2026 as their current partners made their own plans.

According to a report in The Race, it seems that McLaren and Honda are flirting with the prospect of getting back together in 2026.

The report mentions that “initial contact has been made” has been made between the former partners as both of them “explore their options for the 2026 engine rules”.

McLaren are currently running Mercedes power-units, while AlphaTauri are expected to follow Red Bull in their Ford connection and Sauber joining forces with Audi meaning the options for Honda are very few.

Williams, currently also Mercedes clients could be an option for Honda, but with former Mercedes Chief Strategist James Vowles now installed as team boss at Grove, chances are a change of power-unit supplier may be less probable which all makes a reunion with McLaren not such an outlandish option for Honda in 2026.