Red Bull is open to discussing how Honda could contribute to its 2026 Formula 1 engine program now that negotiations with Porsche have officially concluded.
The championship-leading team currently uses engines designed and assembled by Honda following the Japanese manufacturer’s official withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2021 and will continue to use these engines until the end of the current rules cycle in 2025.
Red Bull has set up a new Powertrains company to build its first F1 engine in-house for 2026 and this facility already has over 300 employees.
Porsche had hoped to strike a deal with Red Bull to be an equal partner on the engine and team side from 2026, but talks broke down as Red Bull was unwilling to cede any control.
The reason these negotiations fell through is that Red Bull felt they did not need another manufacturer’s input and so dictated terms that suited their own interests, rather than accepting a compromise. more in favor of Porsche.
While Red Bull Powertrains has been outfitted with high-tech equipment to ensure it produces a quality Red Bull engine in 2026, its main achievement to date is to produce a first V6 test engine on the bench. test drive, with questions as to whether it can handle the hybrid. side – mainly the MGU-H, and the battery – itself as well.
Red Bull Racing CEO Christian Horner insists the company is “able to recruit, invest and have the ability to do all of that”.
However, he has indicated his willingness to work with Honda, should the manufacturer decide it wants to re-enter F1.
“Our train has left the station for 2026, we have an engine and a working prototype, we have all the dynos in service, we are operational,” said Horner.
“Honda is a big company, they have announced their withdrawal from F1 to focus their attention on electrifying their products, moving away from the combustion engine.
“So you would assume that if they were looking to come back to F1 that would have to be taken into account.
“Whether or not there is potential interest from the battery side and potential synergies there, that could be an interesting discussion.
“But on the combustion and mechanical side of the engine, we are on a roadmap until 2026 which we are very happy with.”
This is a strong hint from Horner that outsourcing the non-V6 part of the power unit is something Red Bull Powertrains needs to consider to some degree.
That’s no big surprise as there are often silent partners and third-party suppliers involved in F1 engine projects.
Honda would be a strong partner though, and it remains to be seen whether the kind of arrangement Red Bull wants could be compatible with Honda.
For starters, Honda’s energy recovery system work on F1’s turbo-hybrid engines was carried out in Milton Keynes at a facility sold to Red Bull as part of the engine’s continuation project for 2022 and beyond. .
And Honda’s expertise in Sakura is mostly on the internal combustion engine side, though it’s increasing its hybridization as part of the company’s carbon-neutral tech push, so that might be a workable match.
What a Red Bull-Honda partnership would mean for F1’s ‘new manufacturer’ regulations is unclear.
This could affect Red Bull Powertrains eligibility for overtime and higher spending limits – although a V6 designed and built by Powertrains would presumably meet the definition even if the ERS partner is a manufacturer of F1 established.
There’s also the not-so-small issue that, officially, Honda isn’t considering a return to F1 in 2026. At least not at board level.
But the company’s racing division remains close to Red Bull as there is still an active partnership and The Race understands there have been discussions about what might be possible in 2026 and beyond.
Horner stressed that Red Bull Powertrains is “not contingent or dependent on other potential partnerships or not”, but admits “we would be foolish not to listen” to interested parties.
“But it should fit strategically and complement what we do, to make sure it follows the same roadmap as Red Bull Powertrains,” he added.
Where are Red Bull and Honda, Porsche is no longer on the table – The Race