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Red Bull backs F1 engine equalisation move

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said Formula 1 teams need to do the "sensible" thing and back a push for engine equalisation if major performance disparities have opened up.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Racing

Autosport revealed over the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that the idea of introducing a mechanism to equalise power units among the manufacturers has been tabled by the FIA for discussion at this week’s meeting of the F1 Commission. 

It is understood that the move has been prompted by concerns that the Renault engine, which is used by Alpine, has fallen behind rivals and could be as much as 30hp down on the best. 

While not confirming any figures, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has admitted that the French manufacturer is adrift of the opposition – which is hampering its competitive fortunes. 

“All the teams do the same analysis and the FIA does its analysis,” he said when asked about how his engine stacked up against the opposition. “We are significantly down.” 

Although teams do not like handing performance gains to rivals, the situation surrounding equalisation during a power unit freeze is a different matter. 

With Renault unable to make any improvements to its power units because the current engines are homologated, the situation is slightly unfair to anyone who finds themselves behind. 

That is why Red Bull boss Horner thinks that, if the FIA can show that there is disparity between the engines, then it is only right that moves are made to put everyone on a level playing field. 

Asked by Autosport what he thought about the engine equalisation situation, Horner said: “It is about seeing what are the deficits. The FIA has all of the data and they should present exactly what the differences are.

“I think that would be fascinating for everybody to see, and I think that if there is a deficit under homologation, then it's something that we should be sensible about - otherwise, you're locked in for two years. I wouldn't be averse to a sensible discussion.” 

Winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Red Bull Racing

Horner has in the past made calls for equalisation in the early turbo hybrid years when faced with a Renault engine that was behind the benchmark power units of Mercedes and Ferrari

Szafnauer has welcomed Horner’s stance, especially because the engines were frozen from 2022 to 2025 as a means of helping Red Bull continue to use Honda engines in the wake of the Japanese manufacturer’s withdrawal from F1. 

“I am glad Christian said that because, if you look back, the reason the engines were frozen was because Honda was pulling out at that time and Red Bull didn’t have an engine department to continue developing,” he explained. 

“The reason we all agreed was for the benefit of Red Bull, so it is nice that Christian recognises that.  

“And, at the time of the arrangement, there was also an agreement among the engine manufacturers that if anybody fell out by 1% then there would be good faith discussions to bring that parity back.” 

While F1’s power units have been frozen since the start of 2022, Szafnauer believes the competitive picture has shifted since then as rivals have gained from making reliability upgrades. 

“Everybody is allowed to fix their reliability issues and, hidden in reliability issues, can sometimes be power upgrades,” he said. “It depends on what reliability issue you are fixing.  

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

“I remember in 2007 when we froze the V8s, I was the one who received every request from other teams for Honda. They came to me first, and all the requests back then were for cost-saving and reliability.

“I’d pass them on to the correct engineers. But there is a lot of stuff that can be disguised as reliability and then you increase the power.”

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