Honda Considering Returning to Formula 1 in 2026, Could Tweak Red Bull Branding Until Then

Remember when Honda quit Formula 1? Of course you do, it nearly was “just yesterday” that the Japanese carmaker decided to focus its resources on battery electric road cars, instead of Grand Prix racing.
Red Bull Racing F1 car 7 photos
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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However, they did agree to keep helping Red Bull and AlphaTauri with regards to the manufacturing, assembly and support for its re-badged Formula 1 engines - using an HRC logo, which stands for Honda Racing Corporation.

Now, following Red Bull’s 2021 title win, together with F1’s push for sustainable fuels from 2026, speculation surrounding Honda’s return to F1 has recently surfaced, reports Motorsport.

During last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, HRC president Koji Watanabe had this to say on the matter:

“Formula 1 is the top motorsport category, so we are always watching what is happening in the F1 world. Of course, we just finished and concluded our activities, so nothing [has been] discussed within the Honda company about [the] 2026 season. So, no plan.”

“[But] it is not a closed door,” added the Honda exec. “My understanding is that F1 is discussing to decide the regulations for 2026, and definitely the direction is carbon neutrality. That is the same direction as us. So, we don’t have to [diverge] from carbon neutrality through F1 now. It is probably also a good opportunity to study carbon neutral F1. So, it’s not a closed door.”

In order to seriously consider returning to F1 in an official capacity, Honda would first need to get its battery electric road car program running smoothly, said Watanabe, who was then asked what the key factors would be for his employer to give the go-ahead on returning to F1.

“I think there are several factors we need to watch. But once we decided to conclude the F1 because of mass production [road cars] and carbon neutrality, first we need to concentrate on this side.”

“Then, once we can realize that we can achieve this, we can consider F1.”

As for the time frame for a decision regarding their F1 return, Watanabe stated that Honda would probably “need to decide within 1-1.5 years,”.

The HRC exec went on to add that his company is also eying more exposure within Red Bull and AlphaTauri, where instead of it just saying 'HRC' on the cars, we would once again see 'Honda' branding.
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About the author: Sergiu Tudose
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Sergiu got to experience both American and European car "scenes" at an early age (his father drove a Ford Fiesta XR2 supermini in the 80s). After spending over 15 years at local and international auto publications, he's starting to appreciate comfort behind the wheel more than raw power and acceleration.
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