Red Bull wouldn’t have set up Powertrains had we expected Honda return · RaceFans

Red Bull would not have set up its own engine division had it known Honda would remain in Formula 1, says team principal Christian Horner.

Honda was Red Bull’s power unit supplier when they announced their plans to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021 season. As a result, Red Bull announced they would form their own power unit division to design and build their own engines.

Honda subsequently agreed a deal to continue providing their power units to Red Bull, which the team maintained in their newly-built Powertrains division. After F1 announced its new engine regulations for 2026, Red Bull agreed a deal with Ford to develop their next power units.

However Honda also chose to return to F1 in 2026, and this week announced it will provide engines to Aston Martin when the new engine formula begins. Horner said the announcement was good news for the sport.

“I think it’s positive for Honda, it’s positive for Formula 1,” he said. “They’re a great brand and have got a great legacy in the sport.

“We’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy – and will do so for another two-and-a-half years – a great relationship and supply with them. Obviously they announced their withdrawal in 2020 and that forced us to make a decision, long term-wise, as to what strategically was the best route forward for us. And so we created Red Bull Powertrains, they agreed to become a technical supplier to Red Bull Powertrains and we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship.

“But of course, now we’re off on our own journey as an engine manufacturer, with the partnership with Ford and that’s exciting for us for the future. Honda from ’26 will become a competitor, but I think it’s positive for Formula 1 and it’s positive for them to remain in the sport.”

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Horner says setting up their own power unit division was a major commitment from the Red Bull organisation and they would likely not have taken such a big step had they known Honda would have reversed their decision to depart Formula 1.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Monaco, 2023
Gallery: Monaco Grand Prix practice in pictures

“In many respects, Honda, we should be grateful to for giving us that push to create our own engine facility and the jobs that it’s created and provided,” he said. “And then, of course, the partnership that we have with Ford, that’s particularly exciting for the future – the commitment, obviously, from Red Bull and the shareholders to the project.

“Would we have made the same decision knowing what Honda’s decision is today? Absolutely not. But we’ve made it and we’re committed to it. As the more we’ve got involved, the more benefit that we see to the group long-term.”

With Honda choosing to remain in F1 and design all-new power units for the 2026 regulations, Horner says it is a reflection of how the upcoming engine formula is resonating with manufacturers like the Japanese giant.

“For me, it demonstrates that the combustion engine isn’t dead yet, that there’s still life in combustion,” he explained.

“Because obviously when they withdrew, it was because of electrification and I think perhaps with sustainable fuels and zero emissions and the route that Formula 1’s going for for 2026, combustion became relevant to them again. Whereas it was something that was very much off their agenda.

“Who knows, maybe we’ll get to back to V8 and V10s that are fully sustainable. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?”

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