Honda's F1 return shows combustion engines are not dead

AFP / Philip Fong

Honda's move to provide Formula One power units to Aston Martin in a works partnership from 2026 is proof that the combustion engine still has a future, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

The Japanese manufacturer has performed a U-turn, thanks also to a change of top management, since announcing in 2020 its departure from the sport as an engine provider to focus on carbon neutrality and increased electrification.

Honda has continued to build engines in Japan for world champions Red Bull, who have set up their own powertrains company in Milton Keynes and announced a new partnership with Ford in February from 2026.

The deal with Aston Martin was announced in Tokyo on Wednesday.

"For me, it demonstrates that the combustion engine isn't dead yet, that there's still life in combustion, because obviously when they withdrew, it was because of electrification," Horner told reporters when asked if he was surprised.

"I think perhaps with sustainable fuels and zero emissions and the route that Formula One is going for 2026, combustion became relevant to them again, whereas it was something that was very much off their agenda.

"Who knows? Maybe we'll get back to V8 and V10s that are fully sustainable. Wouldn't that be fantastic?"

Formula One's next generation of engines will retain the high-revving 1.6-litre V6s but with significantly more electric power and 100% sustainable fuels. The sport also has a target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

The last of the wailing and fuel-thirsty V10 engines disappeared from the grid in 2007, replaced by 2.4 litre V8s that then made way for the far quieter V6 hybrid engines from 2014.

The sport's chief executive Stefano Domenicali hailed Honda's return as proof that Formula One was on the right path for the future.

"This is further evidence that our global platform and growth provides brands with huge potential, and it also shows that our plans to move to sustainable fuels in 2026 is the right approach to offer the automotive world alternative solutions to decarbonise the planet," he said.

More from Sports

  • Dupont underwent surgery on facial injury

    France captain Antoine Dupont underwent surgery on a facial injury and will return to the Rugby World Cup squad to recover, the French Federation (FFR) said on Saturday, though it gave no timeline for when the scrumhalf might return to the field.

  • Sabalenka, Swiatek lead first set of qualifiers for WTA Finals

    World number one Aryna Sabalenka will make her third consecutive appearance at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico, as the governing body of women's tennis announced its first set of qualifiers for the season finale.

  • Shami and batters set up India's win against Australia

    Seamer Mohammed Shami claimed career-best figures of 5-51 and India's frontline batters gave a good account of themselves to secure a five-wicket win against Australia in the opening one-day international on Friday.

  • West Ham beat Serbia's Backa Topola 3-1 with own goal

    An own goal by Backa Topola's Nemanja Petrovic helped West Ham United recover from a goal down to clinch a 3-1 home win over the Serbian side in a Europa League group stage match on Thursday.

  • France's Dupont suffers possible jaw fracture

    France were sweating on the condition of captain Antoine Dupont after the mercurial scrumhalf suffered a suspected jaw fracture during the hosts' record 96-0 victory against Namibia at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday.