Red Bull F1 engine plans ahead of schedule, dismisses rivals' "scaremongering"

Red Bull is ahead of schedule with its Formula 1 powertrains effort, says Max Verstappen, as the squad reckoned rivals were “scaremongering” over its progress. 

Red Bull Powertrains HQ

The Milton Keynes-based team has embarked on an ambitious programme to produce its own power unit from the start of the 2026 season. 

It has combined forces with Ford and the work at its new facility is advanced, with around 350 staff already working on the future engine which has been on the dyno since last year. 

While Red Bull acknowledges the supreme challenge of going up against manufacturers like Mercedes and Ferrari, it equally feels its state-of-the-art facilities are just what is needed to make a success of its venture. 

Verstappen, who has kept a close eye on the development of the engine plans, says things are advancing quicker than hoped. 

“It's a very interesting project for us,” he said. “For me, it's also very important to know what's going on, also for my future within the team. And it's all looking very promising. 

“Of course, to go up against all these manufacturers is going to be very tough, but the signs are good. But now of course we have to try and deliver.  

“I think we started at the right time, and we are ahead of schedule. But you know, in one way, 2026 is just around the corner. So, a lot of things still need to be done. 

“I think we are on a good track, but of course we have to keep on pushing flat out to be able to deliver a very strong engine.” 

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the Team Principals Press Conference

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the Team Principals Press Conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner showed selected media, including Autosport, around the Powertrains factory for a first look at the state of the project ahead of the British Grand Prix.

And with design offices packed with busy staff, and intensive progress happening on its seven dynos, Red Bull is much further forward with its plans than some have suggested. 

It has also embarked on further construction for a bespoke ERS facility and has plans to recruit at least 100 more staff to ramp up development of the engine. 

Asked by Autosport if rivals would be surprised by how far advanced the Red Bull project was, Horner said: “I'm sure there's a lot of scaremongering that goes on that Red Bull is struggling, and that Red Bull is in the s***. 

“I honestly think we're in good shape. But only time will tell. We've got two and a half years; we've got 30 months before an engine is running in one of our cars. And that sort of focuses the mind of everybody.” 

Although Red Bull has started its project from scratch, so is decades behind in terms of experience compared to competitors, Horner thinks there could be advantages from creating a project that is shaped to the demands of the new rules and that doesn't have to develop a current engine.

“Powertrains is a massive project for us,” he said. “It's a huge, huge investment. But I think for the long-term stability of the business and the team, to have everything integrated on one site, is hugely advantageous to us.  

“The advantage that we have is everything is focused here on 2026, without the distraction of the current engine. The disadvantage is that we obviously don't have [experience] and we've taken a whole bunch of new recruits in effectively a startup.  

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

“We're looking to take on the best in the world in two and a half years’ time, so there's pluses and minuses. 

“But we're doing it in exactly the same manner and approach and spirit that we've enjoyed great success on the chassis side. So, I'm confident that it will deliver, but we don't underestimate the scale of the challenge.” 

While Red Bull’s investment in the engine project is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Horner thinks it was an essential move for the team’s long-term future.

“I think the team has outgrown being a customer,” said Horner. “We've enjoyed a great relationship with Honda, where we've been treated as a works team.

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“But we paid every penny of the engine bill and will continue to do until the end of 2025. So rather than paying somebody else to do it, we thought we may as well direct that funding internally.  

“And then a partnership with Ford has effectively halved that burden to the shareholders. So, within a cost cap environment, it then starts to make real sense.”

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