Red Bull wants "clean sheet" for new F1 engines from 2026

Red Bull has called on Formula 1 to take a “clean sheet” approach to its next generation of engines ahead of a crunch meeting between manufacturers on Saturday.

Red Bull wants "clean sheet" for new F1 engines from 2026

F1 announced in February that it would be going ahead with plans for a new power unit formula from 2025 after agreeing a freeze on development for the existing V6 hybrids in the meantime.

A meeting will take place on Saturday afternoon in Austria that will shape the direction of the new power units, including existing power unit manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault, as well as interested parties such as Audi and Porsche.

Red Bull will also be present at the meeting ahead of its evolution into a powertrain maker in 2022, when it takes over from outgoing partner Honda.

The meeting is set to focus on the use of sustainable fuels - widely accepted as a crucial development for F1’s future - as well as the balance between hybrid and combustion power in the next generation of power units.

Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner felt that the series had a chance to “do something really good for the sport” with its new power unit regulations, and should not consider any carryover of the existing power units due to their expense and complexity.

He also indicated a desire to push the introduction of the new power units back to 2026, one year later than currently planned.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Erik Junius

“This engine is going to be with us for the next 10 years when it’s introduced,” Horner said.

“I would rather take the time to come up with something exciting, different, and relevant that fits the criteria of cost, of performance, and that encourages close racing.

“Of course we should also not discount sound and emotion. For me, those are the criteria that should be focused on.

“It would be a great shame to carry over what currently is a very expensive engine and try and make it cheap. You can’t fly in first class and pay an economy ticket.

“Hopefully there’s an opportunity - particularly if it was for ’26 - to come up with an engine that’s sustainable, that’s environmentally friendly, that uses biofuel, that is a bit more of a clean sheet, perhaps with elements of standardisation where costs can clearly be controlled, rather than just carry over what we currently have.”

Audi and Porsche’s presence at the meeting comes amid renewed interest from the VW Group over a possible F1 engine project, with an emphasis on a sustainable and cost-effective engine.

Horner believed that Red Bull would be aligned with the same interests as any new manufacturer that might wish to join F1, despite not being an OEM that may need some degree of road relevance.

“I would say any new manufacturer coming in would obviously be keen to have a clean sheet, I would have thought,” Horner said.

“You can understand existing manufacturers having invested in these engines, wanting to roll over IP into the new engine.

“But of course this current engine is extremely expensive, and how you reduce the cost, at the moment, in all the discussions I’ve sat in, it hasn’t been achieved.

“So I think that it’s not as easy as implementing a cost cap, because of course an engine is much harder to police when combustion applies to many other aspects, especially if you’re an OEM owned team or engine manufacturer in Formula 1.”

Horner felt that the clean sheet should include a reduction in dyno and rig time to “encourage creativity”, as well as including a “safety net” so that manufacturers could catch up if they got things wrong.

“We need to come up with something that’s relevant and right for the sport,” Horner said.

“Of course it’s not just about the engine, it’s going to have to integrate with a car that is a low drag car to achieve these type of efficiencies. So it has an enormous impact on the chassis side as well.

“Therefore, a clean sheet for 2026, I think for Formula 1, for me, would be the right way to go.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

But he felt that the final decision had to lay with F1’s regulator, the FIA, and the commercial rights holder to make a call that was best for the series.

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“We should leave that to the regulators and the commercial rights holder, to come up with something they feel is right for the sport,” Horner said.

“They should pay the specialists, some independent specialists, to come up with that study, and then present the rules.

“If teams like it, then they’ll enter, and if they don’t, they won’t, for 2026, in time for the new Concorde Agreement.”

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