It has been confirmed by both sides that the dialogue between McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown and Christian Horner was indeed related to the prospect of McLaren adopting the Ford-supported Red Bull Powertrains PU in 2026. This conversation occurred weeks prior.
In recent times, Marshall had been associated with RBP, and he will commence his new role as McLaren’s Technical Director of Engineering and Design in January. This sequence of events led to speculation about a potential power unit deal coinciding with his transfer, which Horner denies, stating that RBP will not be supplying McLaren.
Horner responded to questions from F1 Flow.com, stating, “No, Rob isn’t leaving with an engine.” He explained that while several teams have expressed interest in their power unit, their initial goal is to supply two teams to avoid overextension. The teams most likely to be supplied are those owned by Red Bull.
McLaren’s team principal, Andrea Stella, also confirmed that McLaren will likely continue their partnership with Mercedes rather than seeking a deal with Red Bull. Stella clarified, “There is no connection. While we did converse with Red Bull some time back as part of our due diligence process in exploring the market for a 2026 power unit, our negotiations with HPP are now at an advanced stage. Consequently, no ongoing discussions are happening with Red Bull.”
In the announcement about Marshall’s exit from Red Bull, it was implied that he left amicably. Horner acknowledged the valuable contributions Marshall made to Red Bull Racing over his 17-year tenure, even though he had recently shifted to other projects and was no longer directly involved with F1.
Horner said, “Rob was a key figure in the development of Red Bull Racing, he made significant mechanical contributions like integrating batteries inside the gearbox during the KERS cars era of 2009-2013. However, in recent years, he moved on to other projects, distancing from mainstream F1. Despite having time left on his contract, he showed eagerness to return to F1 when McLaren made a substantial offer.”
Horner revealed that an agreement was reached that satisfied all parties, which included a negotiated deal with Zak Brown. Despite the usual tradition of a humorous farewell for team departures, Marshall’s send-off was a bit different due to his respected standing in the team.
As Horner added, “He had been working on Red Bull Powertrains lately, but his role in those projects was virtually wrapped up. Considering this, we felt it was appropriate to let him join McLaren in January, following a reasonable commercial agreement between us.”