Williams: Honda not a 'serious contender' for 2026 engine deal

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Williams team boss James Vowles says the British outfit isn't considering Honda as a potential engine partner from 2026, insisting the Japanese manufacturer isn't a "serious contender" to become a supplier to the sport in three years' time.

Honda is one of six manufacturers to have registered with the FIA and indicated its interest in producing a next-generation power unit for Formula 1 based on the set of regulations that the sport will introduce in 2026.

However, the company's registration does not represent an obligation to become a supplier to F1 from 2026.

Honda's current partner, Red Bull, will rely in three years' time on its own power unit developed in-house by Red Bull Powertrains with input from brand partner Ford.

That leaves Honda without a team from 2026. However, as it weighs its options regarding its F1 future, the company says it has received calls from "multiple F1 teams" to discuss a 2026 engine supply deal.

But Williams - which is currently powered by Mercedes - is not one of those outfit's according to Vowles.

"It would be hard for me to comment because I’m not sure what they have facility-wise," he said.

"But I think they’re a little bit further away from it than they would need to be for it to be a serious contender for that year."

Honda's works support to Red Bull involves hardware shipped from Japan and a limited group of engineers working at the manufacturer's frontline in Sakura to which Red Bull Powertrains has added its own personnel at Milton Keynes.

It has been suggested that for Honda to be a full-blown supplier for 2026, it would have required the manufacturer to have a new-generation power unit already in development, which is not the case.

Vowles said that Williams is not locked into Mercedes, although he suggested that its current engine partner could be its most convenient option for 2026, indicating that a decision will be made by the end of the year.

"We are at the moment in the process of making sure we understand all of the options available to this team," said the former Mercedes chief strategist.

"We’re not locked into Mercedes and we’re still in the process of reviewing. But we have to, as all teams will do as well, come to a decision very shortly.”

"I think the end of the year would be late. So, a little bit before then."

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