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Honda affirms Alonso stance over chequered past ahead of reunion

Following the announcement that Fernando Alonso has re-signed with Aston Martin on a multi-year deal, Honda has reiterated its support for working with the Spaniard again after enduring a testing relationship at McLaren.

Honda Alonso 2
To news overview © XPBimages

Honda has revealed the extent to which it was involved in Aston Martin’s decision to pursue extending Fernando Alonso’s contract until 2026 at the earliest – the first year the Japanese marque and the Silverstone-based team will work together.

The 42-year-old famously dismissed Honda’s power unit as a “GP2 engine” in 2015, at the Japanese Grand Prix – Honda’s home event.

That was the lowest ebb of a trying few years for McLaren and Honda, in what was ultimately an unhappy reunion between two parties that enjoyed success together at the hands of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Looking back at the failed stint in the 2010s, when Alonso raced for McLaren, Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe addressed what eventually became a “strained” relationship.

"When I worked with him from 2015 to 2017, it was a very difficult situation for both Honda and the team,” he explained in an interview with Motorsport.com.

"It was a particularly frustrating period in our history, and there were times when our relationship was strained.”

'We overcame that frustration'

However, those indiscretions have been put to rest, as both Alonso and Honda have looked to repair a once fractured history. Watanabe confirmed that he started speaking to the 32-time race winner again at the back end of 2023, once Honda and Aston Martin’s future partnership had was already known.

"I spoke with him in Las Vegas. At the time, he hadn't decided on his next contract yet,” he recalled.

"But Alonso came when we were talking with [team principal] Mike Krack. He said: 'Good luck' and 'If we have a chance, let's race together.' We just spoke a few words."

Whilst it might seem a drastic turnaround, given the difficulties Alonso and Honda shared at McLaren, Watanabe voiced gratitude at being able to work through those struggles, ultimately closing that chapter in Alonso and Honda’s relationship.

"I think we have become stronger because we overcame that frustration,” he said.

"I'm glad that we can overcome that painful experience together and fight together for victory once again. I hope that we can aim for the championship together and win together."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

'We did not make any requests'

Nevertheless, Aston Martin was sure to get Honda’s blessing before re-engaging with Alonso over extending his deal, with Watanabe affirming that the Japanese car manufacturer did not try to stand in Aston Martin’s way.

"We had many conversations with Aston Martin regarding our partnership starting in 2026," he disclosed, underscoring the open dialogue the future partners shared on potential driver line-ups.

"During that time, we exchanged opinions about drivers too and we shared an understanding between us and Aston Martin that Alonso was definitely a top-class driver.

"Aston Martin asked us if there would be any problems from Honda if they extended Alonso's contract. The situation was shared at various stages.

"But Honda did not make any requests regarding this matter. In any case, we should naturally discuss what kind of driver line-up we need to win, and it was in this context that the team decided to extend Alonso's contract."

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