Aston Martin has left their options open for 2026, as the British squad looks to construct the ideal driver combination for its first year of collaboration in Formula 1 with Honda.
The Silverstone-based team has just announced a blockbuster agreement with Honda for the beginning of F1’s new engine regulations in 2026.
Lawrence Stroll’s vision for Aston Martin is to become established at the front, so decisive steps are being taken to ensure the team controls its own destiny.
New facilities, new development equipment and – now – a new engine partnership with Honda give the British team all the ingredients to compete with the best of the best.
However, there has been plenty of speculation online about Fernando Alonso’s disastrous spell with Honda with McLaren from 2015-18.
In reality, though Alonso was clearly frustrated during this spell, the significance of the Spaniard’s team radio messages during his Honda spell is often exaggerated.
Most drivers, not least World Champions, will complain about their machinery to some degree – and there are few drivers of Alonso’s calibre to experience such an underwhelming and unreliable car.
Therefore, the seemingly prevalent narrative online, about the Spanish driver completely ruining his relationship with Honda is generally overstated.
Koji Watanabe, president of Honda Racing, has already outlined that there are no hard feelings towards Fernando Alonso, who he described as a “genius drier.”
In any case, with the 2026 season a few years away, there are plenty of unknowns about what Aston Martin’s driver line-up will look like.
Yuki Tsunoda’s strong performances to start the year have sparked hypotheticals about the Japanese driver potentially securing a seat at Honda.
Although predicting the future of the driver market is always a difficult endeavour, Aston CEO of Performance Technologies Martin Whitmarsh spoke in very glowing terms of the 23-year-old:
“He’s very young still but relatively experienced – I think he’s made great progress. It’s tremendously exciting,” The Race quotes him as saying.
“I’m sure our driver line-up will evolve before 2026. Ultimately Honda and Aston Martin want to have the very best two drivers we can have in the cars.
“We are here to win, as are Honda, so in 2026, we have to start winning together. We have to have great drivers.
“He must be considered as a candidate. I’m sure he would love to drive a Honda-powered car.”
Again, it must be stressed that Fernando Alonso’s future at Aston Martin is still difficult to predict.
It seems likely he will continue until at least the end of 2024, given his high level of performance and the impressive results the AMR23 has secured so far.
However, in three years’ time, it is fair to question whether his motivation to compete in Formula 1 will begin to suffer.
Lance Stroll’s position in the team is hardly ever questioned, given that his father owns the team. That said, it is not out of the question that more pressure will be applied on the 24-year-old to make improvements.
Whilst injury has impacted his 2023 campaign, there is a clear deficit between the Canadian and his teammate. This is especially prominent in race trim.
If Aston Martin is to sustain its battle at the front, Stroll must prove he can compete at the highest level with the strongest drivers in Formula 1.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang