Honda says it hopes that its AlphaTauri protégé Yuki Tsunoda will become a candidate for a seat at Aston Martin in 2026.
During Wednesday's announcement in Tokyo by Honda confirming its 2026 engine supply deal with Aston Martin, Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe made clear that the manufacturer would not get involved with any decisions regarding Aston's driver line-up.
"Our stance remains unchanged and I think the selection of race drivers is fully up to the team, and not something that a power unit supplier like us is supposed to be making", said the Honda executive.
"We will be leaving the driver selection to the team."
However, the idea of Aston fielding a Japanese driver in 2026 is one that appeals to Honda, with Tsunoda – whose career has been backed by the manufacturer – singled out as a potential candidate for a seat at the Silverstone-based outfit.
"He is from our school and he is doing very well. We’re very happy to see him succeeding," said Watanabe.
"But we still have three years to go so it’s too early to say what will happen. I don’t think it’s the time to talk about this. But we’re hoping he will become a candidate."
Interestingly, Martin Whitmarsh, Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, backed up the intriguing prospect.
"I’m sure our driver line-up will evolve," said the Briton. "We want to have the very best two drivers we can have in the two cars. He must be considered as a candidate.
"I’m sure he’d like to drive for a Honda-powered car. Let’s see how he makes progress in the next couple of years and hopefully, we can have serious discussions."
In 2026, Fernando Alonso will be 45, which suggests that the Spaniard will likely no longer be racing in F1.
But in Miami earlier this month, Alonso said that he hoped that his current teammate Lance Stroll would lead his father's outfit into the future.
"I know that I will be in the sport for a few more years but not many, and he will lead the team for the next 10 or 15 years, so I hope I can help Lance in the next few years," said Alonso.
Tsunoda's potential transfer to Aston Martin would serve as a significant milestone in the 23-year-old's career. But he'll likely need to boost his achievements in the next two season to become worthy of a seat at Team Silverstone alongside Stroll.