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Honda in Verstappen revelation ahead of Red Bull exit

Honda will leave Red Bull to partner with Aston Martin for 2026, but Honda Racing Corporation president Koji Watanabe hopes to work with Max Verstappen again in the future.

Red Bull Honda
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Max Verstappen will be missed by Honda when it joins Aston Martin in 2026, according to its Racing Corporation’s president, Koji Watanabe.

With the driver tied to Red Bull until at least 2028, it is unlikely the marque will get to work with Verstappen again for the foreseeable future.

Since 2021, Verstappen and Red Bull have claimed three consecutive drivers’ championships using Honda power, as well as back-to-back constructors’ titles.

But with Honda initially opting to walk away from F1 at the end of that season, Red Bull began developing an in-house solution to the power unit regulations being introduced in 2026 – for which it is working with Ford.

It was too late for Red Bull-Honda to continue, but the manufacturer will become partner to Aston Martin for the 2026 rules revamp, which will see it reunite with Fernando Alonso.

Despite still being two years from the end of its collaboration with Red Bull and Verstappen, Watanabe hopes Honda will get the opportunity to work with the latter again.

"I don’t think that day will come within a very short period of time, but if both continue their Formula 1 activities in the future then we hope that we can work together again one day," he told Autosport.

"It is a very good relationship. We trust each other and also the Honda workers love Max. We are proud to work together with Max, so we will miss him in the future.”

'A very special moment'

With Verstappen remaining the class of the F1 field this season, it is likely the three-time champion will have become a four or even five-time drivers’ title winner by the time the relationship with Red Bull comes to a close.

"We still have two years together and we promise to do our best to win another world championship together with Max and Red Bull,” Watanabe added.

"He is so important. He is the number one Formula 1 driver now.

"Of course, the team management is important and the machinery is important as well, but the combination is crucial and one important piece of that is Max."

Reflecting on the highlights of Honda, Red Bull and Verstappen’s tenure together, Watanabe shared a “very special moment” from the partnership.

"My biggest memory is him pointing at the Honda logo on the podium in Austria at the Red Bull Ring," Watanabe explained.

"I was there, that was a very special moment for me. I was standing under the podium and that day was so special.

"He always thinks about Honda and says ‘thank you, Honda’ a lot. He expresses his thoughts to the outside world about Honda, which is also important for all the people working for Honda."

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