If only Honda had taken more time before hastily quitting F1 or promptly approved its return, Red Bull would not have found itself establishing its own engine division and investing hundreds of millions of pounds into its new Powertrains division. Max Verstappen’s initial reaction to Honda’s decision to stay in F1 was one of disappointment, as he believed the situation could have been handled better. At the Monaco Grand Prix, he expressed his thoughts, stating that it was unfortunate how things unfolded. When Red Bull started developing its own engine, Honda changed its mind, which made collaboration impossible. Verstappen regarded this turn of events as a shame.
From Red Bull’s management standpoint, it was evident that the costs would have been significantly lower had Honda chosen to remain. Christian Horner, the team boss, acknowledged the expensive nature of the decision to pursue the Powertrains route with a smile. However, F1 is not a sport where cutting corners leads to success. While Red Bull had to dig deep into its pockets to match the efforts of Mercedes, Ferrari, and Alpine in manufacturing both cars and engines, the benefits derived from this investment are immeasurable.
One of the key advantages, which played a role in the collapse of Red Bull’s talks with Porsche over a 2026 engine deal, was the newfound control over the future. For years, the team’s performance fluctuated based on the competitiveness of its engine partner, as evidenced by the highs and lows experienced with Renault. Red Bull realized that to establish a lasting presence at the front, it needed to take charge of its own destiny. As Horner recently explained, the investment was ambitious but necessary to secure long-term control.
“When Honda decided to withdraw from the sport, we faced a predicament: either return to being a customer team or seize the opportunity presented by the new regulations for 2026 to invest in a cost-capped environment,” Horner shared with F1 Flow.com. He further highlighted the unique advantage Red Bull has by housing both the chassis and engine on one site, except for Ferrari. Such integration creates efficiencies and synergies that even Mercedes, with its separate ownership and locations for chassis and engine, cannot match. Horner acknowledged that there might be short-term challenges as Red Bull becomes the UK’s first startup engine business in about 25 years. However, he emphasized the excitement that comes with such a challenge.
In addition to regaining control, Red Bull’s powertrains approach also leads to incremental gains for its cars. Aston Martin’s announcement regarding the 2026 rules emphasized the need for closer integration between the power unit and chassis. Red Bull understood that reverting to being a customer would not provide the necessary control over its supplier. Having experienced the benefits of a works partnership with Honda, Red Bull could not accept being dictated to regarding the layout of their cars.
One of the most significant positives resulting from Red Bull’s powertrains strategy is the best of both worlds scenario it has achieved. The project benefits from manufacturer support with Ford joining the endeavor, while still allowing Red Bull to retain full control over the end product. Ford contributes expertise in areas where Red Bull lacks, particularly in battery cell technology. The enthusiasm Ford brings to the project has been exceptional, given its global significance as a major brand investing close to $50 billion in battery cell technology and facilities. This investment puts Red Bull on a more equal footing with competitors that already have access to similar resources.
Although producing their own engine currently does not generate extra commercial rights income for teams, Horner believes this situation may change with the new Concorde Agreement by 2026. He suggested that the agreement’s renewal should consider this aspect, especially as costs come under control and partnerships like
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 Powertrains
Why did Red Bull create its own Powertrains division?
Red Bull decided to establish its own Powertrains division because Honda had initially planned to withdraw from F1, leaving Red Bull in need of an engine solution. By creating their own division, Red Bull gained control over their destiny and aimed to become a permanent force at the front of the sport.
How did Red Bull benefit from having its own Powertrains division?
Having its own Powertrains division allowed Red Bull to have full control over the engine that goes into their cars. This control over the power unit was essential for their long-term success, as they no longer had to rely on the competitiveness of an external engine partner. It also provided them with closer integration between the power unit and chassis, which would be crucial under the 2026 regulations.
What advantages did Red Bull gain from their investment in the Powertrains division?
Red Bull’s investment in the Powertrains division brought several advantages. They gained control over their future, integration efficiencies, and synergies by housing both the chassis and engine on one site. Additionally, their partnership with Ford provided expertise and technology, particularly in battery cell technology, putting them on a more equal footing with their competitors. Furthermore, there is potential for future financial benefits and revenue streams, especially if Red Bull decides to supply engines to customer teams.
Was Red Bull’s investment in the Powertrains division worth the expense?
According to Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, the investment in the Powertrains division was the right decision, despite being an expensive one. Red Bull aimed to take control of their own destiny, improve performance, and secure their long-term position in the sport. While there may have been short-term challenges, the gains in terms of control, integration, and potential financial benefits made the investment worthwhile.