Honda “making noises about 2026” but Red Bull’s plan is set – Horner

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Red Bull is ploughing ahead with its own engine programme for 2026 and any new manufacturer which joins it will have to do so on their terms, says team principal Christian Horner.

He indicated Honda, which developed the V6 hybrid power units the team currently uses, has shown an interest in participating in F1 in some form in 2026. Red Bull has also been in discussions with Porsche about a tie-up when F1’s new engine rules are introduced.

Horner said his team is “pushing on with Red Bull powertrains” at its Milton Keynes base, where its 2026 power unit will be built.

“It’s making great strides with the fire-up of the first-ever Red Bull engine a couple of weeks ago,” he told Sky. “So 2026 is a long way away and we’re very focussed on our plan, on the engine that we’re producing with the talent that we’re bringing into the team.”

It isn’t guaranteed that Red Bull will team up with a new manufacturer, said Horner. “Any relationship with any manufacturer or partner would have to fit with Red Bull,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a great team. We’ve got strength in depth. We’ve got this exciting new chapter that we’re heading into on the powertrain side of the business. We’ve got some phenomenal talent that have joined the company. So we’re in good shape.

“Time will tell whether we embrace a partner into that programme or as the plan is present, continue on our own.”

However he admitted Honda have shown interest in recommitting to the F1 project which they shelved at the end of last year, despite having built the power unit which took Max Verstappen to the world championship. Honda Racing Corporation last month extended its contract to provide technical support to Red Bull until 2025.

“Honda obviously withdrew from Formula 1, they’ve kept a toe in with the agreement we have with HRC, they’re making noises about 2026.

“But obviously, our train has left the station. We’ve committed to that investment within Red Bull Powertrains we’ve [got] circa 300 people now working on that 2026 engine. So it would need to fit any agreement with any potential partner or [manufacturer], with that and with the whole team being under one roof and the synergy benefits that have our chassis designers sitting next to engine designers.”

The Volkswagen Group brand’s sibling Audi confirmed last week it will produce a power unit for F1’s next formula. “It’s great to see Audi coming into the sport,” said Horner.

“But anything that Red Bull would consider would have to fit with the long-term strategy of the team. And as I said, there’s plenty of time ahead.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Honda “making noises about 2026” but Red Bull’s plan is set – Horner”

  1. Easy to sound cocky now when starting from 2026 anyone can make a F1 engine. Can’t blame Horner though, it is beyond me how Ferrari have signed up an engine formula where the engine is being marginalized repeating the same error they made when they signed the hybrid rules in 2014.

    From what has emerged from behind the scenes at Ferrari is that Elkann and Vigna – who was appointed precisely to drive the electrification of Ferrari – were in favour of the 2026 rules due to the significant importance of the battery pack. For Elkann the benefits will go beyond Ferrari with the gained know how regarding the battery technology.

    1. As I understand it, part of the issue is the managing team (Horner, Marko, Newey) not being too keen on losing control of the racing team when Porsche has a 50% share and will almost certainly want to use their say, while Mateschitz seems to be looking to secure the long term future of the team when in time he will step down from Red Bull, including the sports affliates @tifoso1989

      1. @bascb
        That’s correct. Horner, Marko and Newey don’t like to be reporting to the Porsche board in Stuttgart. They know that it’s a matter of time before they lose their jobs and the Porsche will appoint their employees to run RBR. The thing is RBR are now in a very strong position with the current politics unfolding in their favours.

        Remember when Honda announced their withdrawal from F1 in late 2020, RBR were worried to secure a PU deal for the 2022 season and looking for alternatives and even the Renault name was on the table. Horner have successfully lobbied for the current engine freeze and the 2026 rules were tailor made for Porsche to join. RBR capitalized on being sharp politically wise by investing in RB Powertrains and now they are in a very strong position.

        All this happened and Ferrari were watching as always. After Marchionne’s death they have only vetoed Toto’s appointment as CEO of the sport but that was a blatant move by Wolff to hijack F1 that a 10 year old child can detect.

  2. It makes a lot of sense what Horner is saying and the most surprising thing is why discussions have come this far in the first place. Why would Red Bull after committing to design and manufacture their own PU and finally having their destiny in their own hands commit to a tie-up with a board-room in Germany? It only adds complexity and inertia.

    1. Depends on who you ask @me4me. It certainly doesn’t make sense if you are the guys calling the shots now. But maybe in the larger picture of Red Bull, Mateschitz and the Thai owners for the longer term future it makes huge sense.

      Who guarantees that they are willing to run the whole sports stuff indefenitely.

    2. This is why I would be surprised if the Porsche Red Bull deal would materialise. Red Bull has made it very clear that they want to develop the car and engine in-house, making them a truly independent team.

      At best I can see Porsche taking over Torro Rosso, using rebranded Red Bull powertrains for their cars.

  3. I’m not particularly a fan of Red Bull, but they do have:

    – the F1 champion, which is one of the best ever talents
    – the best F1 designer ever
    – huge up-to-date facilities
    – huge workforce
    – a recent history of success (5 title-years in the past 15 years)
    – a fully-fledged young driver programme

    When Horner says Red Bull is in the driving seat, he isn’t joking, Porsche would be mad to not accept this team as is.

    1. Absolutely, and they increasingly look capable of becoming a proper works team. I do think Porsche would be an interesting fit. I don’t think Red Bull would mindt badging their engines as Porsche, even if they are produced by their powertrains unit in partnership with Porsche. It would also be a soft-landing for Porsche with a team that’s damn near guaranteed to be close to the top of the grid.

  4. This might sound like a personal fantasy at this point, but imagine the 11th team of Andretti + Porsche. They’d bring way too much into the F1 brand, and none of the existing teams could say it’s not enough to be part of F1. Sigh….

  5. Mark in Florida
    2nd September 2022, 18:02

    Can’t blame Red Bull for sticki to their plan. Honda has been in and out of F1 more than a UPS driver does his truck. They can’t seem to make up their minds about it. They pulled out for 09 and Brawn went on to win. Now Red Bull is winning and they want back in again. They are not dependable long term. If Red Bull does partner with Porsche they will be in the driver’s seat. I’m sure they don’t want to end up like Williams and Sauber did after BMW left.

    1. Is Porsche dependable long term?

      1. Mark in Florida
        3rd September 2022, 12:55

        I think if Red Bull was smart about it they would build their own engine and let Porsche have the naming rights to said engine. That way Porsche gets the recognition without the industrial investment all they need to do is provide the money and advertising. Red Bull did this with Infinity branded Renault engines. Red Bull wants to have the future in their own hands, so building their own engine is the only way to be free of manufacture tie ups.

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