Partnership bells could be ringing once again for Honda and McLaren

With the two giants already in talks, it appears that a renewed partnership between the two is closer than ever before.

McLaren signed a deal with Honda, for the Japanese company to supply them with engines from the start of the 2015 season. After the rough breakup of the partnership in 2017, McLaren and Honda have yet again apparently made initial contact over a 2026 engine deal.

The first era of the partnership was seen in the late 1980s, during Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna's time. The partnership was quite a powerful one, seeing they won four consecutive Constructors’ Championships. In addition to that, in the final year of working together, McLaren secured P2 in the 1991 Championship. 

Later on in 2015, they came together again the Honda engine did not perform that well, hence ending their relationship. Honda went on to supply Red Bull.

In spite of that, there could be a potential partnership that is on the way for the ex-partners in 2026. However, the discussions for the partnership are still in an extremely early phase, according to Scott Mitchell-Malm. The FIA says that Honda is one of six 2026 potential suppliers, without a team, though at the moment.

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From 2019, Honda powered Red Bull, but later on opted out of the sport as they believed their strength was on electric and more environmentally friendly vehicles. Their decision to leave was made in 2021, but a change in the team's CEO, the changes for the 2026 engine regulations and Verstappen’s title win changed their minds. 

Nevertheless, Red Bull already had made other plans, which saw them establishing their own power unit division, although Honda shall continue to assist until 2026 when Ford takes over.

Zak Brown confirms they are satisfied with their current arrangement with Mercedes, who they partnered with in 2021. “There are obviously benefits to being a works team with some of the advanced knowledge that you get.

We’re very happy with Mercedes. I’m a believer that you can win a world championship with a customer engine. I think the engine in our car is no different from the engine in Lewis Hamilton’s car," said Brown. He continued, saying, “I think the engines are absolutely the same.” We have a long-term contract with Mercedes, are very happy with the collaboration and aren’t really spending too much time thinking about 2026 and beyond.”

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