Red Bull Powertrains (RBPT) was established last year, and it has since taken over the management of Honda’s power units as the Milton Keynes company moves closer to becoming an engine producer in its own right beginning with the next power unit cycle.
Red Bull had been a Renault customer for a long time prior to switching to Honda power units. During that time, the team won four consecutive world championships from 2010 to 2013, but the relationship ultimately ended on sour terms because Red Bull believed Renault lagged behind the competition in the hybrid power unit market.
With that in mind, Horner was recently questioned on the Beyond The Grid podcast why the team didn’t establish an engine section at the time.
“I believe since the investment at the time and the technology was so advanced, it would have been unfathomable and we probably weren’t mature enough as an organization to take it on, but today we are at a level where we are that mature,” he added.
We’ve had three years to prepare Red Bull Powertrains for participation in 2026 thanks to the time allotted by the new rules (which require homologated engines to remain in use until the end of 2022).
We are allowed to take the leap because the rules are clear enough. Because we would never be able to compete with the likes of the manufacturer teams who have a limitless R&D budget at their disposal, the budget cap was of course also essential to become a power unit maker.
Even while the German automaker has maintained that Formula One is still “an appealing environment,” recent confirmation that Red Bull and Porsche had been in negotiations about a prospective tie-up came as preparations at the new site accelerated.
Horner commented on the change and where it leaves his team in an interview with Sky Sports F1: “As I’ve very much talked about relatively regularly, Red Bull opted to become a power unit manufacturer more than 18 months ago now.
Over the course of that period, we’ve hired more than 300 individuals to work at Red Bull Powertrains, and many of them are among the most talented people in Formula 1. In only 55 weeks, we constructed a cutting-edge plant and manufactured the first Red Bull engine.
And he went on, “Obviously as we’ve been on this trip, there’s been some talk along the way with Porsche, a terrific business and amazing brand, but it was thought that the fit just isn’t quite right for where we’re heading and the path that we’re on.
Since Porsche had no hand in developing the engine or the operation, nothing changed for us. Red Bull is entering an exciting new era as a power unit maker.
Technical Director Pierre Wache recently acknowledged the “huge task” that Red Bull has in getting a power unit ready for the new engine age and competing with established manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault from the get-go.
Audi has joined Red Bull Powertrains in committing to Formula One as a supplier in anticipation of the 2026 regulation revisions, which will see F1 power units keep the existing V6 internal combustion engine design but incorporate enhanced electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels.
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