Horner suggests Honda could help with 2026 Red Bull F1 engine project

Porsche announced Friday that its planned partnership with Red Bull is not going ahead, leaving the latter free to pursue other potential partnerships.

Honda ended its official involvement in Grand Prix racing at the end of 2022, ostensibly to focus its resources on electrification, and had agreed to continue supplying its current powerplant to Red Bull and AlphaTauri until the end of 2025.

The company has subsequently hinted that it could still pursue an F1 project before 2026, inevitably leading to speculation that Red Bull would change course and stay with Honda.

Horner insists Red Bull is too far down the road with its own project to give up and carry on with Honda power.

Analysis: what is the future for Porsche and Red Bull after collapsed F1 deal

However, he did not rule out a possible collaboration, but only on the hybrid side of the power source.

Such a strategy would only work if Honda chose not to remain involved in an entire PU project on its own and partner with a non-Red Bull team.

“Our train left the station before ’26,” Horner said. “We’ve got an engine and prototype running, we’ve got all the dynos up and running, we’re up and running.

“Honda is a great company. They announced that they are withdrawing from F1 to focus their attention on the electrification of their products and move away from the internal combustion engine.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo By: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

“So you would assume that if they were looking at a return to F1, that would have to be taken into account. Whether or not there was any interest on the battery side, and any synergies there, could be an interesting discussion.

“But the combustion and mechanical side of the engine, we’re on a roadmap to 2026 that we’re very happy with.”

A complication of such an arrangement is that Honda support could potentially jeopardize Red Bull’s position as a new powertrain manufacturer for 2026, and the benefits that come with it, most notably a higher cost cap.

Horner is adamant that Red Bull Powertrains doesn’t need the support of an OEM and can build an entire power unit themselves.

“Don’t worry about that,” he said. “We are in a position with recruiting and investment within the facility to do all aspects of the power unit.”

He also indicated that the Porsche deal collapsed, among other things, because of the limited amount of technical assistance the manufacturer would provide, given the knowledge of the staff already recruited.

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“What we were interested in, when you build a power unit entity from scratch with an OEM, is what they can potentially bring to the lot that we didn’t have access to?” he said.

“And I think after doing our due diligence, we felt like we were actually in good shape. And with the hiring that we’ve done, we don’t really feel at a disadvantage against our competitors technically.”