Red Bull is ahead of schedule on 2026 engines

ReutersJuly 7, 2023, 11:39 AM ET3 minutes of reading

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Formula One champions Red Bull have identified potential problems with the sport’s engine for 2026 because they are ahead of schedule in developing their own, according to team principal Christian Horner.

Both Briton and double world champion Max Verstappen have expressed concern about the characteristics of the new power unit, prompting some speculation that they may be behind in development.

The new unit has a 50-50 ratio of internal combustion engine power and Horner cautions that the quickest way around a lap is to drop down the straights to recharge the batteries.

Red Bull, which will partner with Ford after a full split from Honda from 2026, has hired engine specialists from rivals Mercedes and elsewhere to build a powertrain plant as part of a 50-acre 'campus’ expansion in Milton Keynes.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff asked what Horner’s 'real motivation’ was for criticizing the 2026 rules in Austria last weekend and suggested his rival might be „scared” of not competing.

„I think we’re in a really good position. We’ve got two-and-a-half years,” Horner told select reporters on a factory visit ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix of the „intimidation”.

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„I don’t know how close Toto is to his engine business,” he added.

„When you start to see the program really come to life and the simulations are solid, [you see] Some limitations. are inevitable.

„So I would say it’s probably a result of us being well advanced, and we’re actually seeing some limitations,” he added.

Horner felt it wasn’t too late to change the specs, and it wouldn’t take long.

„Whether you do it in fuel flow or cell completion, you have to change that ratio a little bit to make sure we get the best race,” said Formula One’s longest-serving team boss.

Verstappen said in Austria that the data in the simulator was „very scary”.

„If you go 400 or 500 (metres) down the straight at Monza, you have to slow the flat-out because it’s faster. I think that’s not the way forward,” added the Dutch driver.

„We have to take a serious look at this, because 2026 is not that far off. And right now, what I see from all the numbers and from the existing data looks pretty bad.”

At Silverstone on Thursday, Verstappen returned to the subject and echoed Horner that Red Bull is ahead of schedule.

He suggested that other drivers may not yet be aware of the problem.

„I don’t know how many people fully know what it’s like,” he said.

Red Bull also plans a new wind tunnel next to the factory, and Horner said Red Bull engines will carry the TM prefix to ensure the team’s late founder Dietrich Matschitz is at the heart of the car.

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