Honda Racing Corporation President Koji Watanabe has insisted the Japanese manufacturer will be up to speed with F1's new power unit regulations when rejoining the grid in 2026.
Radical changes will be made to power units from 2026 with the sport's aim to entice new manufacturers to the grid paying off, with Ford and Audi joining as well as Honda's return.
Honda remains in a technical relationship with Red Bull having officially withdrawn factory support at the end of 2021, with its success in recent years a far cry from the struggles it experienced when teaming up with McLaren last decade.
The partnership formed Honda's return to F1 having completely withdrawn at the end of the 2008 season and it was clear the effort was undercooked as the Woking-based team combated a woefully underpowered hybrid power unit, slumping down the pecking order.
But providing reassurances that Honda will be able to complete with rivals from the get-go when joining Aston Martin in a works partnership in 2026, Watanabe told media, including RacingNews365.com: “I'd like to mention that we have been continuously supplying engines upon request from Red Bull even for the current F1, so, therefore, we are still in operation for the ongoing F1 races as well.
“As for the new regulations to be introduced from 2026, we have continuously engaged in studies of the important factors in terms of the power units.
"Therefore, we have not totally withdrawn from our R&D activities. Unlike the previous time when we were fully withdrawn, we have already been engaging in development.”
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Haven't lost so much
“Until March 2022 we were fully engaged in gauging the development of the power units for up until 2022,” added Watanabe.
“So, we had the full headcount still remaining. However, then they were allocated to different carbon-neutral projects. So, the headcount of the development member has started to decrease starting from April 2022.
“In April 2022, a new company called Honda Racing Corporation was established, this is a dedicated company for motorsport. This company kept on engaging in studies and development of four-wheel technologies and we commenced studies regarding the new regulations.
“Therefore, we don't think that we have lost so much regardless of our withdrawal from F1 racing at this point in time.”