Red Bull plan capacity to supply up to four F1 teams with engines

2022 F1 season

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Red Bull say their new Formula 1 power unit facility will eventually be able to supply engines for up to four different teams.

The team began work on the new Red Bull Powertrains division last year. It has already run its first prototype of a V6 engine for F1’s new formula which will be introduced in 2026.

Team principal Christian Horner says the huge cost to Red Bull of building their own engine will be increasingly offest by the savings that can be made in their F1 team following the introduction of the budget cap last year.

“Obviously we have the burden of costs of existing power units plus development at the moment,” he acknowledged. “But by the time we get to 2026, the budget cap will have fully kicked in and the costs become far more bearable than they were two or three years ago. So the cost cap again was fundamental to becoming a new entrant.”

The initial plan is for Red Bull to supply engines to its own team plus junior squad AlphaTauri. But there will be the potential to take on more customers, said Horner.

“The way we’re structured we have the capability within the facility of producing engines up to four teams,” he said. “But that certainly won’t be the initial goal. The initial plan is obviously to supply the two Red Bull-owned teams.”

Mercedes currently supply engines to four teams, the factory Mercedes team plus three customers, but indicated earlier this year of having plans to scale back. That will leave McLaren, Williams or Aston Martin looking for a new supplier.

Ferrari already provide engines to their own team plus Alfa Romeo and Haas, while Alpine is the sole user of Renault’s engines.

Red Bull currently use power units developed by Honda, which officially withdrew at the end of last season, but is continuing to provide support until the end of 2025 through Honda Racing Corporation. While Red Bull’s discussions with Porsche over a potential tie-up came to nothing, rumours now suggest Honda is considering a swift return to F1. Although Horner said Red Bull’s plans are set regardless of others’ plans, he is open to a potential reunion with Honda.

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“Our train has left the station for ’26,” he said. “We have an engine and prototype running. We have all of the dyno’s commissioned, we’re up and running.

Statistics: Honda engines have won more than half of F1 races since company announced exit
“Honda [are] a great company. They announced their withdrawal from F1 to focus their attention on the electrification of their products, moving away from the combustion engine. So you would assume if they were to look at returning to F1, that would have to be taken into account.

“So whether or not there was some interest, potentially on the battery side, and any potential synergies, there could be an interesting discussion. But the combustion and mechanical side of the engine, we’re on a road map to 2026 that we’re very happy with.”

Horner acknowledged it is an ambitious move for Red Bull to be designing their own engine. But he believes it will put them in a position to rival Ferrari as the only constructor which builds a complete F1 car on the same site. Rival Mercedes’ operation is divided between its Brackley chassis factory and Brixworth engine facility.

“As soon as we made the decision there was full commitment,” he said. “It’s no small undertaking, some people are saying we’re completely mad to take on the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes and Renault and potentially even Honda starting from scratch. But that is exactly the Red Bull way, to achieve the impossible. That was said about designing and building a chassis.

“With the quality of people that we’ve managed to recruit, based in the UK, there hasn’t been an investment in the UK like this in an engine facility probably in the last 40 years. So that has enabled us to attract some phenomenal talent that we’re still actively recruiting, and announcing some more new members to the team in the near future.

“But it’s tremendously exciting. I think everybody in the whole business is excited about the opportunity it presents, providing jobs in the UK at a time when budget caps on the chassis side are contracting teams. I think it gives us a unique position other than Ferrari to have everything under one roof with the synergies that creates.”

Red Bull may also produce their own engine for the recently announced RB17 hypercar, Horner added.

“It allows us to look at other projects, for example the RB17, whether we produce our own power unit for that,” he said. “So it strategically is a logical investment, after Honda’s announcement to withdraw, to take our future into our own hands rather than being reliant on being a customer.”

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16 comments on “Red Bull plan capacity to supply up to four F1 teams with engines”

  1. I wish F1 went the 90’s IndyCar way, where manufacturers also sold chassis to teams. If a team who builds garbage cars like Aston Martin could but a Red Bull car – or at least a McLaren – for Sebastian Vettel and next year Fernando Alonso to drive, it would make F1 infinetely better.

    1. Unfortunately when they did it, it did result in only 2-3 teams ever having consistently competitive equipment.
      So… Just like F1…

      There are better ways to bring performance together that doesn’t cost technical divergence, but F1 isn’t interested.

      1. If 4 teams drove Red Bulls, 4 teams drove Mercedeses, 1 Ferraris, 1 McLarens – how is that uncompetetive?

        1. Apart from the fact they’d be selling slightly de-rated versions of the previous year’s car (so as not to have it beat their own new one) it also isn’t really what F1 is about, is it….

          To directly answer your question – only one of those chassis’ would likely be the fastest and most consistent, leaving the others behind – just as has always been the case in F1.
          It could be argued that some teams are using pretty much that format now, and have been for many years.
          The Alpha Tauri is never a vastly different car than the Red Bull, nor are the Haas’ or Alfa Romeo’s a mile away from the Ferrari’s design. Mercedes-powered cars are often (coincidentally) similar in philosophy and detail also. Just enough to scrape by with the current (application of the) rules, of course…

          And which one of those partners is always at the front of the pack?
          The one who did the original design and supplies the major components, of course…
          How is that uncompetitive? Just watch F1 – it always is uncompetitive, and always has been.

    2. This is the case in MotoGP where the Dukes, including those from last year with the satellite teams, are far too good on power tracks, thereby making life difficult for other factory teams.

      It certainly messes up the field as factories also start using these teams tactically to reduce competition.

  2. Mercedes plan to scale back their engine program? I haven’t heard that but it does make sense. I wonder who will get there Merc deal cut off?

  3. kenyon.pat@gmail.com
    20th September 2022, 17:18

    The article states that Red Bull have run a prototype of the V6 engine. That is not the case. They have run a prototype single cylinder engine only at this stage.

    1. The article states that Red Bull have run a prototype of the V6 engine. That is not the case. They have run a prototype single cylinder engine only at this stage.

      Sounds like they are fishing for customer interest to help finance the development programme, just in case Honda don’t hand them a complete set of plans. There’s a bit of a jump from that early concept test to a full prototype.

      1. SteveP, Honda has confirmed that they have no intention of selling any of the intellectual property rights to their powertrain technology – they are only leasing the minimum amount of IP to Red Bull that are required for Red Bull to continue using their power unit, but that agreement terminates at the end of 2025.

    2. Wrong.
      They have run a V6 on the dyno after earlier single cylinder tests.

  4. Going to be a tough sell on the branding side. Imagine a Aston martin powered by redbull™

    1. I think that works quite well. Just look at the Aston Martin logo… wings :)

  5. Could we see a Renault Red Bull?

  6. Fly on the wings of the bulls

    Well Ferrari will be Ferrari and if Mercedes is staying they will use their own product, same goes with Alpine/Renault. Mclaren Red Bull might well happen. Alfa Romeo goes with Audi. How long will Aston Martin want to continue becuse I can’t see Aston Martin Red Bull happening, Williams Red Bull sound quite ok. Haas already tried with one energy drink company so even though Haas Red Bull sounds good I doubt it.

    1. Aston Martin Red Bull is already done when they were the main sponsor of red Bull in 2019-2020 i think. So it’s so strange as Aston Martin doesn’t produce their own engines in their roadcars. Maybe a deal to rebrand the engines but that would be more expensive.

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