Honda say they would like Japan's Yuki Tsunoda to be a candidate for a seat at Aston Martin in 2026.
It was announced earlier on Wednesday that Honda would team up with Aston Martin from that year onwards, with the Silverstone team becoming Honda's de facto works outfit.
Tsunoda has been affiliated with Honda since he was 16, and his current seat at AlphaTauri – who run Honda power units – is funded by the Japanese concern.
The announcement of a deal between Aston Martin and Honda prompted questions as to whether Tsunoda – who is currently F1's only Japanese driver – would be in line for a seat, and Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe confirmed that Tsunoda was on their radar.
"Of course there are Japanese drivers who would be challenging and we would like them to become candidates," Watanabe told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"We're very happy to see [Tsunoda] succeeding.
"But talking about the future, we still have three years to go so it’s too early for us to say what will happen. I don’t think it's the time to talk about this.
"But we're hoping that he will become a candidate. But it's up to the team to make the final decision."
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Improved form for Tsunoda in 2023
After a disappointing 2022 in which he was overshadowed by then-team mate Pierre Gasly, Tsunoda has impressed so far in 2023 despite the limitations of AlphaTauri's AT04, outscoring and outperforming new teammate Nyck de Vries.
Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh added that Tsunoda's improved form so far in 2023 meant the Japanese was in the running for a seat.
"He's making a great impression this year," said Whitmarsh.
"He's very young still, but relatively experienced but I think he's made great progress. It's tremendously exciting.
"I'm sure our driver line-up will evolve before 2026. Ultimately, Honda and Aston Martin want to have the very best two drivers we can have in the cars.
"We are here to win, as are Honda, so in 2026 we have to start winning together. We have to have great drivers.
"[Tsunoda] must be considered as a candidate. I'm sure he would love to drive a Honda-powered car.
"Let's see how he makes progress in the next couple of years and hopefully we can have some serious discussions together."
Who might Tsunoda replace?
Should Tsunoda move to Aston Martin, it would likely be to replace Fernando Alonso, who will be 44 by the start of the 2026 season.
The Spaniard's current contract with Aston Martin does not run until then, but he has begun 2023 in fine fashion with four podium finishes, and has stated his intention to race for as long as he remains competitive.
Aston Martin's other driver, Lance Stroll, will be only 27 by 2026, and his status as the son of team owner Lawrence Stroll means he is likely to have a seat at Aston Martin for as long as he wants, or unless he is signed by a more competitive outfit.