“It’s clear from everything we’ve seen from Honda in the past, from our recent learnings, from being in conversation the last few weeks – they have a huge passion, they are racers, they want to win. That’s what they are in this sport to do, and that’s fantastic because that’s exactly our goal. We have a lot to learn from Honda, who have been successful over many, many decades in this sport. We are already confident this is going to be a fantastic partnership for the future.”
Whitmarsh is now the group CEO for Aston Martin Performance Technologies, but his influence on the F1 team specifically is clear given his history. He worked with Honda initially and then with Mercedes for so long while at McLaren. He was part of the organisation that started the transition back towards the former nearly 10 years ago.
That initial McLaren spell under the current regulations was an absolute disaster for both sides, but Honda recovered to be the standout partner to Red Bull in recent years, and the catalyst for wanting to bring the Japanese manufacturer back into the F1 fold in the first place still rings true for Whitmarsh as Aston Martin looks to 2026.
Just like the Alonso example, when Aston saw something that worked for what it wanted, it made it happen, fast.
“My previous experience only enthused me, it had no bearing. So my first time working with Honda was 1989 — quite a long time ago. I was ironically involved 10 years ago in encouraging them back to the sport, but I wasn’t here when they arrived.
“But I think Honda are racers. It was an extraordinarily straightforward discussion. The discussion didn’t start very long ago. We shared our ambitions, what we wanted to do in the sport. I think we quickly established that there was a common passion to win, and the synergies were very, very strong. It was a pretty straightforward approach. We want to win, Honda wants to win. I think we can both see the strengths that the two partners bring to that partnership.”
While that echoes McLaren’s own mantra back in 2015, the theory behind it has only been proven true since. It’s surely not impossible, but to date nobody has been able to win as a customer under these regulations.
And as Aston Martin looks to be decisive and committal thanks to the resource and ambition it has at its disposal, it is also willing to be ruthless. The old Jordan factory that holds such sentimental value is soon to be demolished ready for another new building, and the long-term Mercedes supply deal that has this year been strong enough to see Aston Martin sit second in the constructors’ championship is already being seen as holding the team back from making the final step.