Zak Brown refused to confirm whether McLaren and Honda had spoken about a power unit deal for 2026 but hinted the rumours were true at the launch of McLaren‘s 2023 car.
The F1 engine freeze lifts in 2026 when new regulations come in that simplify the power units, and teams have already started positioning themselves with manufacturers.
Honda are registered as an engine provider with the FIA for 2026 but the team they’re closest to, Red Bull, have signed up with Ford for 2026 leaving the Japanese giant potentially without a team.
“We’re now starting to think about 2026 and beyond, we’re in no rush,” Brown told members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com. “Andrea and I will work through the year to figure out what we think is gonna make us most competitive in 2026 and beyond, things are developing fast within the sport and I think it’s exciting.
“There’s many manufacturers looking to participate in Formula One, I can’t recall the last time there was that amount of manufacturers, right now we’re laser-focused on ’23.
“But we’ve got some time to decide, we’re very happy with our relationship with Mercedes and everyone at HPP [High Performance Powertrains], they’ve done an excellent job, it’s a great collaboration.”
What are McLaren’s options for 2026 power units?
Six manufacturers have registered with the FIA as engine manufacturers: Honda, Red Bull-Ford, Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine and Audi. McLaren re-signed with Mercedes as a customer for 2021, reigniting a partnership that won a string of championships in the 1990s and 2000s, and Brown made a point of stressing McLaren are happy with Mercedes as their partner.
However, with nothing certain at the end of 2025, it remains to be seen whether things will stay that way. Honda pulled out of the sport for environmental reasons in 2021 and had a hugely unsuccessful and bitter partnership with McLaren in the mid-2000s that saw the Woking outfit fall from challenging for race wins to finishing ninth in the constructors’ championship.