F1 has decided on its next regulations (from 2026), both technical and economic and sporting, regarding the power unit.
For this new era, although the changes won’t be as drastic as in 2014, Red Bull will build its own engine with its Red Bull Powertrains facility, likely in a joint venture with Porsche. Audi will also arrive from 2026, probably with Sauber.
However, two pitfalls must be avoided with this new regulation. Two pitfalls seen in 2014. On the one hand, the disparity of performances on set: in 2014, Mercedes crushed the competition, and the suspense with it. On the other hand, it will be necessary to make life a little easier for the new members of the Volkswagen group, to avoid a new Honda-type disaster.
For this, the regulations have foreseen the blow: the new manufacturers will receive 5 million dollars in 2025 and double it in 2023 and 2024, so that they can be updated.
Christian Horner welcomes these efforts, as Red Bull will have a new engine manufacturer in 2026, whether it’s called Red Bull Powertrains or Porsche. But is it enough? Isn’t the challenge of building a new power unit too big for Milton Keynes?
“The engine is changing, but there are a lot of elements that we can transpose from one regulation to another. »
“But for a newcomer, when you start from scratch, it’s a big challenge. »
“Even if the FIA tries to have a more prescriptive engine [dans sa conception], there is always performance to look for. Formula 1 engineers constantly show how creative they are in finding performance. »
“The most important weak points for a newcomer are two. The first is that we have to catch up, we have to try to catch up with almost 10 years of regulations, technical knowledge and knowledge that we don’t have. »
“And within the budget restrictions that exist, $10 million [de bonus] for a newcomer it is quite frugal, especially for the engine, to be able to catch up with the knowledge and know-how. And in particular with the transposition, from one regulation to another, of the technology of internal combustion engines. »
Given the scale of the project, isn’t Red Bull Powertrains already behind schedule for 2026? Horner takes stock.
“The other challenge for a newcomer to these financial regulations is to build their facilities, because you have to start from scratch. In 55 weeks, we created a factory and produced our first combustion engine, which is a great achievement. »
“But there is still a long, long way to go in terms of manufacturing capacity and so on. And there are deadlines for that, some of which are a bit unrealistic. As a newcomer, it’s a huge burden. »
« Nous voulons simply qu’il y ait un plateau avec a level of equitable performance – in ce sens que nous ne voulons pas surpasses that current motorists ont, mais nous voulons être en mesure d’arriver à un point où nous pouvons avoir the same thing. »
Christian Horner is worried about one point: what will happen if an engine manufacturer (random Red Bull Powertrains) completely misses its target in 2026, like Honda in 2015? Will there be compensation provided to allow you to catch up?
“Basically, the safety net that was in the regulations is something that will have to be reviewed over time. If a manufacturer misses the mark… what is this indemnity, this compensation that is meant to correct this, so that we don’t have a massive disparity in performance, as we saw when we introduced the 2014 V6 era? It is a work in progress. »
So why did Red Bull produce a classic combustion engine in its factory? To practice or because this engine will be really useful for 2026?
“The engine we have created is based on the knowledge that has been discussed in the power unit technical forums. »
“So fortunately it’s not entirely related to the regulations and it was important for us to have this first engine designed and produced by Red Bull. It was a historic moment for the company to see this engine come to life just before the summer break. »
“But now the clarity on regulations, turbo capacity, compression ratios, piston specifications, etc., all of that allows development to continue until 2026, which, in a cost control context, represents a great challenge.” »
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