Honda has begun an “information war” with Red Bull ahead of its split with the Formula 1 giants.
The two parties have, for several years now, enjoyed an enormously fruitful alliance. Honda built the engines which propelled the team back to the top of the sport and has continued to support Red Bull during its transition to creating its own power units for the first time.
But it will all come to an end upon the conclusion of the 2025 season. Red Bull announced their major new partnership with the Ford Motor Company earlier this year which will officially begin from the 2026 season.
Honda will remain in F1, though, having signed up for the new engine regulations coming into force at the same time. The Japanese carmaker has signed with Aston Martin to become the team’s official power unit supplier
Even though the Red Bull partnership will continue until then, the way the two parties work together has already begun to change. Koji Watanabe, head of the automotive giant’s racing division, has explained how.
“Red Bull doesn’t tell us anything about their engine, and we don’t say anything to them about our development,” he told De Telegraaf. “So there is already a kind of information war going on at the moment. At Red Bull, they do have some knowledge about our current engine but, ultimately, we are responsible for the development and the whole process. Most of the knowledge is with us.”
Watanabe went on to give an impression of Honda’s ambitions for its Aston Martin partnership. Lewis Hamilton will hope to take the fight to Red Bull with Mercedes, while the likes of Ferrari and McLaren will also want to be in the title battle, but Honda and Aston Martin believe they can upset them all to be the chief threat to Red Bull going forward.
He said: “Until 2025, I hope Red Bull wins everything. And from 2026, we will hopefully be their biggest competitor. Building a completely new engine is a huge challenge, but our goal is also to win a championship in the next era.”
Until then, Watanabe will help Red Bull to unlock even more potential from their current power units despite the F1-mandated engine freeze. He added: “In terms of power and performance, we may not improve anything, but in other areas, we can make strides even with this engine.
“At Ferrari, for example, they have developed the engine considerably and Mercedes’ ERS [energy recovery system] is also very strong. We will also improve our engine for next year in terms of its longevity. So there is definitely something in the pipeline.”