Formula 1: The surprise driver change that could be in the works for 2026

While Formula 1 is in the midst of a busy driver market heading into the 2025 season, there is a potential move for 2026 that has already been looming.
Yuki Tsunoda, RB, Formula 1
Yuki Tsunoda, RB, Formula 1 / Rudy Carezzevoli/GettyImages

Yuki Tsunoda’s contract with RB is due to expire at the end of the 2024 Formula 1 season, and based on how well the Japanese driver has done this year, chances are he will be retained by RB for 2025. However, Tsunoda could find himself on the move in 2026.

Honda have been supporting Tsunoda ever since his junior days. He is their shining product of the Honda Formula Dream Project, and that support continued when he entered Formula 1 with AlphaTauri (now RB) in 2021.

In light of the massive regulation changes set to be introduced to the sport in 2026, the suppliers for several teams are set to change, with many manufacturers seeing the opportunity provided by Formula 1’s next era. With that, Honda plan to end their power unit partnership with Red Bull and begin a new one with Aston Martin.

What does this mean for Yuki Tsunoda?

Honda Racing Corporation CEO Koji Watanabe would like his company to continue their ongoing support for Tsunoda for many years to come. As a result, a potential move for Tsunoda to Aston Martin has been suggested for 2026.

According to, Watanabe spoke exclusively on Tsunoda and the potential of him eventually joining Aston Martin.

"We still don't know what Aston Martin's lineup will be like. Alonso has been confirmed, but I have not yet heard that Stroll has been confirmed."

Koji Watanabe

Fernando Alonso recently re-signed with Aston Martin through 2026. With Lance Stroll’s father Lawrence owning the team, the possibility of his son departing is low, but not impossible. However, Honda may put pressure on Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin to replace Lance with Tsunoda.

If it were to happen, Aston Martin would instantly boost themselves upward in terms of lineup strength. In an era when nobody knows how things could turn out, this change could be key to making them one of the sport's top teams. Having two talented drivers can help them to capitalize on their opportunities for points and positions in both championships.

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The 2026 season is still quite a long way away, but this is a potential move to monitor. And with Tsunoda and Stroll both being out of contract at the end of 2024, there is a slim chance that it could happen a year early as well, especially with Tsunoda's potential Red Bull avenue closed off following Sergio Perez's recent contract extension.