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Aston Martin

Why Aston Martin has ditched Mercedes for 'titan' Honda

The long-lasting relationship between Team Silverstone and Mercedes will come to an end when Aston Martin joins forces with Honda in 2026.

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Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO Martin Whitmarsh has explained why its F1 team has decided to break away from the 'reliance' on Mercedes.

The Silverstone-based outfit has been confirmed as Honda's partner from 2026 as the Japanese manufacturer makes an official comeback to the sport, with the team to become known as Aston Martin Aramco Honda.

Whilst withdrawing from F1 at the end of 2021, Honda secured a World Championship double with Red Bull last season as part of the ongoing technical agreement whilst the Milton Keynes-based outfit gears up for its own powertrains project alongside Ford from 2026.

Speaking to select media, including RacingNews365.com, Whitmarsh explained: "We are building a team to win in Formula 1 and over the last 18 months, I think we have been recruiting the right people, we have been investing in the required facilities and developing the right culture and processes to win.

"We know that we need strong partnerships and have been previously delighted to be joined by Cognizant and Aramco in this mission.

"But it is a great opportunity to partner with a global motorsport titan like Honda as a works team, this is an extremely exciting and important further step for the team.

"It is clear that both organisations share the same mutual drive, determination and relentless ambition to succeed on the track. We have seen Honda over many years achieve great success - we are still building, we are very proud, honoured and grateful to put in place this partnership.

"It is clear to us and Honda that the 2026 F1 regulations will require the full integration of chassis and PU that only a full works team relationship delivers.

"So to have this partnership puts us in the position to compete for championships. They have a huge passion, they are racers and they want to win - that is what they are in this sport to do. That is fantastic because that is exactly our goal.

"We have got a lot to learn from Honda, who have been successful in this sport over many decades. We are already confident this is going to be a fantastic partnership for the future."

Mercedes has been a great partner

Mercedes has supplied 'Team Silverstone' with engines since 2009 and Aston Martin takes on gearboxes and rear suspension from the German manufacturer.

But the breakaway towards a works partnership with Honda provides an opportunity for autonomy, though Whitmarsh has insisted there is no breakdown in the relationship with Mercedes.

"We have got to be clear, Mercedes has been a great partner for the team and they remain that," he added.

"They are in it to win and clearly we want to win as well, so ultimately there is some incompatibility in those two missions and that is why we have taken the decision.

"The first and most obvious example was we currently share a wind tunnel with them, yet we are having to spend a huge amount of money to build our own wind tunnel which is only four or five miles from the quite adequate one we use.

"But the nature of F1 is if you want to win, it means beating Mercedes and it is extremely difficult to beat an organisation as good as Mercedes if you are reliant on them for intellectual property, facilities and components.

"Team Silverstone has got a great tradition for delivering great bang for a small buck but we are in a different position now. The Aston Martin brand, the ambition of Lawrence Stroll and now with great partners like Honda, we are here to win.

"Therefore, you have got to have the complete integration of facilities, process and approach... the 2026 regulations will demand a very substantial integration - not just the physical integration of components, but the operational integration - to be able to deliver and win.

"So in my view, it would be very, very difficult to win, consistently, championships without a full works relationship which is why we have made this decision and why we are delighted to have a fantastic partner like Honda."

It would be very, very difficult to win without a full works relationship

- Martin Whitmarsh - Aston Martin Performance Technologies CEO

Aston Martin - Mercedes partnership remains for road cars

The switch to Honda provides a potential conflict of interest for the wider Aston Martin group, with Mercedes-Benz providing technologies for the manufacturer's road cars.

Despite conceding the new partnership "doesn't fit" with the Lagonda branch of the business, Whitmarsh explained: "Aston Martin Lagonda is a public company, one of its shareholders is Mercedes-Benz and it has a significant proportion of the power units for its road cars comes from Mercedes-Benz.

"That is planned to continue. We are purely focused on racing activities and we have chosen to partner with Honda.

"We will be absolutely just focused on winning in F1 with Honda and Aston Martin Lagonda will continue to develop its own strategy."

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