Max Verstappen and Christian Horner feel a bit sad about Honda joining hands with Aston Martin and making a u-turn on its F1 ambitions.
After Honda announced its association with Aston Martin from F1 2026 onward in a u-turn of their decision to pull out at the end of 2021, both Verstappen and Horner are not hugely happy in the sense that the decision forced Red Bull to set up Powertrains division.
It is no surprise for Horner to admit that if Honda hadn’t said no to them, Red Bull wouldn’t have set up their own engine division, even though they don’t regret setting it up. They will have the support of Ford but it is still a big investment for a energy drinks company.
For Verstappen, who found success with the support of Honda, winning both his F1 titles with them and is on his way to claim his third one, calls it a shame that they are switching to Aston Martin after initially saying no to the sport in 2021.
“I think from our side it’s a bit fortunate how that all turned out because a few years ago they said, ‘We’re going to stop’, then Red Bull sets up this whole engine division and then at one point they are saying, ‘Oh we continue’,” said Verstappen. “Unfortunately, once you’re already in the process of building a whole engine yourself, you can’t really work together anymore. Yeah, it’s a bit of a shame, I would say.
“We always had and have a really good relationship with them. Seeing them go to Aston Martin is a bit of a shame. I loved working with them. We’ve had a lot of success already. So, of course, I will be sad to see them go but we already expected that because they said they were going to pull out.
“So we already had a kind of goodbye. Of course, I’m happy for the 100 people that they stay in Formula 1, but sad to see them go. But I mean, we are also very excited from our side for 2026 onwards what’s going to happen together with Ford. It is what it is, a few years ago we thought they were going to leave now they stay and they go with Aston which for Aston as well is really good, they will have a great engine we all know that, it is what it is,” summed up Verstappen.
The views of the Dutchman was concurred by Red Bull team boss Horner, who is happy with Honda staying but does admit that the initial decision of them leaving forced them to spend more in setting up their own Powertrains division.
“I think it’s positive for Honda, it’s positive for Formula 1,” said Horner. “They’re a great brand. And have got a great legacy in the sport. We’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy, and will do so for another two and a half years, a great relationship and supply with them. Obviously, they announced their withdrawal in 2020.
“And that forced us to make a decision, long term-wise as to what strategically was the best route forward for us. And so, we created Red Bull Powertrains, they agreed to become a technical supplier to Red Bull Powertrains, and we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship. But of course, now we’re off on our own journey as an engine manufacturer, with the partnership with Ford.
“And that’s exciting for us for the future. But, you know, Honda, from ’26 will become a competitor, but I think it’s positive for Formula 1, it’s positive for them to remain in the sport. It was certainly an expensive decision but look, I think for us, for the long term prospects of Red Bull, we’ve outgrown being a customer.
“For us to have the power unit on site, on campus, integrated fully with chassis and the synergies that creates, with engine and chassis engineers sitting next to each other, I think for us, for the long term, the advantages are significant. And we would not have made that jump had it not been for Honda’s withdrawal.
“So in many respects, Honda, we should be grateful for giving us that push to create our own engine facility and the jobs that it’s created and provided and then, of course, the partnership that we have with Ford that’s particularly exciting for the future. And the commitment, obviously, from Red Bull and the shareholders to the project.
“Would we have made the same decision knowing what Honda’s decision is today? Absolutely not. But we’ve made it and we’re committed to it and the more we’ve got involved, the more benefit we see to the group long term,” summed up Horner, who noted that it wasn’t easy to convince them to remain with them until 2025.
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