Honda gears up for works F1 return with new HRC UK base


Honda confirmed on Wednesday the establishment of its new F1 base in the UK – Honda Racing Corporation UK Ltd – from where it will carry out its engine maintenance operations as part of its power unit supply deal with Aston Martin that will start in 2026.

Honda officially withdrew from F1 at the close of 2021. However, the Japanese manufacturer’s agreement with Red Bull has seen it continue to supply its hardware to Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri - now known as RB.

Honda’s deal with Red Bull will run until the end of 2025, after which the latter will transition to its own F1 power unit developed in-house at Milton Keynes in collaboration with Ford.

Honda’s return to F1 as a works supplier to Aston Martin – an agreement signed in May 2023 between the two parties – coincides with the introduction in 2026 of the sport’s next-generation engine rules.

These regulations aim to simplify powertrains by eliminating the costly and intricate Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H) component. Additionally, a 50/50 power split between the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and the hybrid system is mandated.

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To facilitate its partnership with Aston Martin, HRC has established a dedicated UK subsidiary and will consequently open a factory.

Leading the charge for Honda's F1 comeback is Koji Watanabe, the president of HRC who has been with the company since 1987.

“This new company has been founded to primarily perform post-race maintenance and preparation tasks on the Honda-built F1 power units (PUs), whilst also operating as a logistics operation for the European region,” read a statement from HRC.

“The establishment of HRC UK will further enhance the effectiveness of Honda’s PU operations, in support of the partnership with Aston Martin [F1] Team.

“In May 2023, Honda and Aston Martin F1 jointly announced they will enter into works partnership so that Honda will supply its F1 PUs compliant with the new F1 regulations which will take effect in the 2026 season.”

To prepare for it 2026 return, HRC will launch a recruitment drive in the spring, seeking engineers, technicians, and public relations (PR) staff.

This targeted hiring spree highlights Honda's commitment to the new venture. Building a strong team with the right skillsets will be crucial for their success alongside Aston Martin.

Finally, Honda's North American arm, HRC USA, won't be left on the sidelines. With the F1 calendar boasting five races in North America, their involvement is set to increase.

HRC USA will not only contribute to the development of the new power unit but will also embed personnel directly at Aston Martin.

“A new corporate organisation has been established to carry out F1 activities, which is very significant,” added Watanabe.

“Until now, our activities have been projects, gathering people and money, disbanding when the project was over, and repeating. However, going forward, we will be responsible for the racing company’s activities.

“Being a company, of course, we have a budget that includes expenses for technological development with an eye to the future, such as sustainable carbon-neutral fuels, high-performance motors, batteries, and so on.”

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