LONDON – Honda has said that it would not object to Fernando Alonso racing on for Aston Martin when it supplies the Formula One team’s engines in 2026, despite the Spaniard’s stinging criticism during their time together at McLaren.
The issue may be a moot point, with the two-time world champion turning 42 in July, but Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe was asked anyway when the engine deal was announced.
“We have no objections whatsoever in him driving,” he said when asked how Honda might respond if the team wanted Alonso to continue.
The Spaniard, who won his F1 titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, joined Aston Martin this season and is enjoying a late career renaissance with four third places in five races.
Aston Martin’s group chief executive of performance technologies Martin Whitmarsh said Alonso was doing a great job.
“He’s making a great contribution both on and off the track. Obviously I spoke to Fernando a little while ago about the direction we intended to go,” he said.
“I’m sure everyone here is referring to some comments that were made probably in the heat of battle once, which were quite memorable I suppose for some, but I think he understands and respects what Honda are doing.
“Honda won the 2022 and 2021 world championships (with Red Bull) and unless we can beat them this year they are going to do it again. So they are a very great partner for us and I think Fernando sees that.”
Alonso had infamously labelled Honda’s engine – back when it was powering his McLaren during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix – “embarrassing” and a “GP2 engine”.
In March 2017, with McLaren and Honda heading for a split, he declared: “We have only one problem, and that is the power unit. There is no reliability and there is no power.”
It remains to be seen if he is willing to bury the hatchet.
Whitmarsh is not too concerned as Alonso’s future may be uncertain by the time 2026 comes around, but believes that the Spanish driver still has a number of good years left in him.
“Probably 2026, who knows, is outside his planning horizon at the moment,” he said.
“But I hope he’ll be around for a number of years and if he’s as fit and as competitive as he is today then it would be fantastic to have him in the car in 2026 as well.” REUTERS