Could F1 fast track 2026 engine overhaul after Honda departure?

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Honda's decision to withdraw from Formula 1 after 2021 has led to suggestions of fast-tracking the new engine regulations, currently set for 2026.

The announcement almost two weeks ago sent a shockwave through F1 and has left Red Bull having to consider all options regarding power unit supply for both their teams in 2022.

As it stands, the Austrian brand has voiced a preference for buying the engine IP from the Japanese supplier and developing the units themselves, as InsideRacing first reported.

Then there are the three other suppliers currently on the grid, though only a reunion with Renault appears a realistic option at this point.

One idea very much off the table is a new manufacturer joining the grid and that, according to Auto Motor und Sport, has led to an FIA emergency meeting being arranged for the day after the Portuguese Grand Prix. 

"I want to be very clear that we take no satisfaction in the Honda situation," Renault's Cyril Abiteboul told at the Nurburgring.

"We need to call it the way it is, it’s not a positive development for F1. We want an F1 with carmakers, with OEMs, with engine suppliers, and being down to three engine manufacturers is not a positive development.

Also Read:

"We need to draw some clear conclusions from this situation, and it’s something I’ve been urging the governing body to look at more carefully.

"The engine situation is simply unsustainable. In particular from an economic perspective, but also from a technology perspective. I am not sure we can afford this perception.

"Either we’re capable of changing this perception of the current engine architecture, or probably we need to fast track the adoption of a new architecture so that we get in a better place in terms of perception again."

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl agreed that F1 is at a crossroads.

“The key will be that Formula 1, along with FIA and teams and the engine manufacturers plus potential new manufacturers, work out now a clear plan of, first of all, how the next evolution of the power unit regulations, evolution or revolution, will look," he was quoted by RaceFans.

“In the end, you have two possible directions. One is obviously to keep trying to have power units in Formula 1 also in the future which are leading on technology and a platform to develop future road car technology also.

“Or you go in another direction, which means you simply go for power units that are a lot about a lot less complex and also a lot cheaper.

"Looking forward. I think that’s the key question that needs to be answered first before you then can also go into, let’s say, timeline’s of potential new newcomers coming into Formula 1.”

Cosworth F1

Seidl believes potentially going in the latter could tempt independent engine makers like Cosworth or Ilmor back on the grid as costs could be kept low.

The German also backed new F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Motorsport boss Ross Brawn as the right men to lead the sport on this matter.

Speaking of Brawn, he was in charge of Honda the last time they withdrew at the end of 2008, of course famously taking the 2009 car they developed to the world champion as Brawn GP the following year.

And though the Briton said their latest decision to leave F1 was "unfortunate", he hopes they would be involved in ensuring the next generation of engines would attract more manufacturers back onto the grid.

"I'm optimistic when their situation changes and when F1 evolves, we can engage them again, as Honda has always been important and welcome members of the F1 community in the past and, hopefully, for the future," he wrote on

Horner Brawn

"All automotive companies are facing massive challenges at the moment," he added.

"And we as F1 need to respond to that and make sure F1 meets those challenges, stays relevant and becomes more relevant to provide automotive partners with viable challenges within F1 which can provide support with their objectives away from F1.

"I hope a new power unit formula which will be introduced no later than 2026 will encourage them to come back again.

"We'll also be encouraging them to be part of new FIA working groups, which will recommend what sort of power unit we will adopt in the future.

"They have been great partners in F1 and I look forward to working with them in future."