It was announced today that Honda will return to F1 in 2026 as the works engine manufacturer for the Aston Martin. Martin Whitmarsh explains why the team decided to split from Mercedes.
Today, Aston Martin and Honda announced a works engine deal, which will commence in 2026. This means that the British team will split from their current supplier and partner Mercedes.
After the announcement was made, Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies Martin Whitmarsh has explained his team’s decision.
“Mercedes have been great partners for the team and they remain that,” Whitmarsh said.
“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.
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“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.”
The Briton added that Aston Martin’s deal with Honda will not impact the company’s current technical co-operation with Mercedes when it comes to road cars.
“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. 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.”
Whitmarsh then emphasized the fact that a split from Mercedes was necessary if Aston Martin wants to become a serious championship contender.
“This is about the growing up of this team. 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,” the Briton concluded.