OCTOBER 10, 2022
Honda's full F1 return for 2026 not decided yet
Talks in Tokyo with Dr Helmut Marko, and a deal to return clear 'Honda' branding to the car doesn't mean the Japanese carmaker will rekindle its full works backing of Red Bull in Formula 1.
That is the insistence of Koji Watanabe, president of Honda's subsidiary 'Honda Racing Corporation' (HRC) that until recently was Red Bull's only outward tentative link between the manufacturer and the dominant F1 team.
But with Red Bull's talks with Porsche about 2026 recently collapsing, it is clear that Honda is now back in the frame.
The deal for HRC's technical support provided to Red Bull this year has now been extended until the end of the current regulations era through 2025.
Proper Honda logos are back on the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri cars, and Marko admits he was recently in Tokyo for renewed talks with Honda executives.
But Watanabe insists none of that means the Red Bull-Honda pairing will be back to full works status in 2026 and beyond.
"Red Bull asked us to help them fully for one year and then they can stand on their own," he told as-web.jp.
"However, it was not so easy so we decided to continue the same support system until 2025. If it was only for one year, HRC would have quietly supported without mentioning the Honda name.
"But if it's going to be a longer period of years, we thought wouldn't it be better to demonstrate Honda's commitment and strong bond with Red Bull?"
So when asked directly if the closer ties between Red Bull and Honda now means the full works partnership will be back on from 2026, Watanabe said: "Zero.
"By 'zero' I don't mean that the return is zero, but as I said zero, the Honda logo now is for a completely different reason.
"It has nothing to do with what happens after 2026," the Japanese insisted.