Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will re-enter the prestigious Formula One World Championship in 2026 through a partnership with British automaker Aston Martin, in a bid to strengthen the development of greener vehicles as motor racing's environmental regulations tighten.
The Japanese automaker will supply power units, which consist of engines and motors, to Aston Martin. It said it hopes the know-how it acquires through its involvement will help bolster development of all-electric vehicles and other new mobility products such as flying cars.
"F1 became an environmentally sustainable event that matches the direction of Honda's efforts to achieve carbon neutrality," President Toshihiro Mibe said at a press conference, citing a change in regulations effective from 2026 as the reason behind its re-entry.
Under the new regulations, power units need to generate equal output from engines and motors, significantly increasing the proportion of the power source that does not emit carbon dioxide. Participants will also be required to use carbon neutral fuel.
The announcement came after Honda pulled out of the sport in 2021. At the time, it said it wanted to focus on developing next-generation greener technologies such as EVs and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles.
"The key for winning will be a compact, lightweight, and high-power electric motor with a high-performance battery," Mibe said.
"We believe that the technologies and know-how gained from this new challenge can potentially be applied directly to our future mass production" of EVs and other products, he added.
The power unit Honda will provide for F1 could also be used for the flying cars it is developing, the company said. It is considering a similar engine-motor power source for such vehicles.
The area of collaboration with Aston Martin is limited to F1. Honda said it is not considering developing other cars with the British maker at the moment.
Honda initially took part in F1 between 1964 and 1968, becoming the first Japanese automaker to do so. It returned in 1983 and dominated the championship with 15 wins in 16 races in 1988 with legendary drivers Ayrton Senna of Brazil and Alain Prost of France.
Honda halted its participation again in 1992 but resumed it in 2000 and continued until 2008. It rejoined the championship in 2015 before it pulled out again in 2021.