Home Manufacturer fund Why Red Bull thinks it’s not ‘completely crazy’ to create its own F1 engine

Why Red Bull thinks it’s not ‘completely crazy’ to create its own F1 engine

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For many teams, the opportunity to partner with such a major automaker would have been seen as a crucial step towards future results and finances.

So losing this opportunity as the talks got down to business would have triggered intense panic and a tearing of demands to try to bring the big bosses back to the negotiating table.

But Red Bull’s position is to be quite relaxed about how things have gone. It has been crystal clear for several weeks that he never wanted the tie-up with Porsche to be on his own terms and, with his own powertrain project, there was no stress or unnecessary pressure to reach an agreement. line.

As Red Bull team principal Christian Horner puts it, some would believe his team is “crazy” to embark on the kind of colossal investment required to fund a competitive engine project on its own.

But Red Bull is no ordinary team and, with the energy drink company’s full backing to fund the delivery of what’s best for the racing team, the accountants aren’t sounding the alarm. on how things are going.

“I think as soon as we made the decision, there was total commitment, and that’s no small feat,” Horner said.

“I mean, some people think we’re absolutely crazy to go up against Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault and potentially even Honda, starting from scratch. But that’s exactly the Red Bull way: to achieve the impossible. They said the same thing about designing and building a chassis.”

He added: “I think it gives us a unique position, other than Ferrari, to have everything under one roof. With the synergies that creates, it allows us to look at other projects, for example, the RB17, and if we produce our own power unit, for this project, so it’s strategically a logical investment after Honda’s withdrawal announcement: taking our future into our own hands rather than depending on being a customer.

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Photo by: Camille Debastiani

Red Bull’s decision to commit to its own engine for 2026 has been helped by the fact that there will be a cost cap on power unit development under the new rules – there is no therefore has no risk that he will be involved in a total expenditure. war against rival OEMs.

And having such a long delay before his engine goes wild on the racetrack, still gives him plenty of time to figure out if a suitable partner can or should come aboard.

Because there are still fundamental questions that Red Bull will have to answer as we approach 2026.

Having your own engine can be great from a competitive standpoint, but it’s also not something that’s going to help balance the books.

As a company that doesn’t sell road cars, it’s unlikely to sell more drink cans just because it uses a Red Bull engine over another automaker’s.

And the way the prize money system works in F1, the income from the commercial rights to win the world championship with his own engine is the same whether he comes home with a Red Bull engine or a Honda-branded engine, a TAG-Heuer or even a newcomer from the left that no one is talking about right now.

The truth is that there is nothing to be gained financially by standing alone and refusing all options for help and investment from outside.

“Obviously we have the burden of the cost of existing power units, plus development right now,” admitted Horner when asked if the financials meant it made sense to commit to being totally independent.

“But by 2026, the budget cap will be fully engaged. And the costs will become much more bearable than they were two or three years ago.

“Cost capping was once again fundamental to becoming a new entrant. And the way we’re structured, we have the capability within one facility to produce engines for up to four shifts. But this will certainly not be the initial objective. The initial plan is obviously to supply the two teams belonging to Red Bull.”

Red Bull’s final decision, however, goes beyond money. Horner admits Red Bull should be aware that a manufacturer could help add good technical know-how to push forward their own engine project, particularly when it comes to creating a world-class F1 hybrid system.

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

Christian Horner: “Our train left the station for '26.  We have an engine and a running prototype, we have all the dynos in service.  We are operational.

Christian Horner: “Our train left the station for ’26. We have an engine and a running prototype, we have all the dynos in service. We are operational.”

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

It is clear that there is no return on what happened with Porsche from the point of view of Red Bull. Instead, the focus is on the future and what makes sense and is best for the team.

Honda is the clear favorite for a partnership, but the Japanese company is still unsure if it wants to reverse its decision to leave F1.

Red Bull can, however, wait for this call. Time is on his side; and, if there is a formal meeting with the Japanese automaker in the longer term, there is no pressure to rush the Japanese at this time.

“Our train left the station for 26,” added Horner. “We have an engine and a prototype running, we have all the dynos in service. We are operational.

“Honda, again a big company, they’ve announced their withdrawal from F1 to focus their attention on electrifying their products, moving away from the combustion engine. So you’d assume that if they were considering returning in F1, this should be taken into account.

“Whether or not there is potential interest, on 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.”