We’ve all been reading of VW’s renewed interest in Formula 1 and perhaps some or all of that interest has been centered around the proposed 2026 formula changes to the power unit that would see F1 using synthetic fuel. As an engine manufacturer, that may have a lot of curb appeal.
Reading an article over at Motorsport by Jonathan Noble, he reveals that VW—or in this iteration, Porsche—is not just engaging as an engine partner but much more.
According to Noble, the proceedings have begun to join Red Bull and Porsche/VW as a 50% buy-in partner in the team. There seems to be some global business hurdles to pass when joining two company’s effort like this with anti-cartel legalities. As part of the EU, they also had to file their intentions with 20 countries outside the EU and the report says that the details of this partnership have been published in Morocco by the Conseil de la Concurrence.
Noble goes on to say that the investment is in the Red Bull Technology group but that the partnership will also extend to the F1 team business as well. He also says that Alpha Tauri will most likely use Porsche engines as well but remain fully in Red Bull’s control.
Now, this is very interesting when I consider Porsche buying 50% of the Red Bull Technology group which would mean the organization that Red Bull put together by buying Honda’s remaining F1 engine assets would be where Porsche is investing. At least that’s what the briefing mentioned. Mr. Noble says the assumption is that it would also extend to the separate F1 team business as well.
If you back up a bit and look at what red Bull did, they bought Honda’s engines and IP for the F1 engine, created a new organization called Red Bull technology and are maintaining the engine development in a frozen state until 2026.
It would be interesting to see how this deal is fashioned and how they valued the Red Bull Technology portion of their business which is wholly reliant on their F1 team’s continuation in F1. It makes sense to have Porsche take oner their technology group and further develop new engines but it’s that spill-over Jonathan mentioned into the F1 business that has me curious.
I suspect Red Bull pays for their engines or offsets some of the development costs and Porsche does most of the heavy lifting with engine design and fabrication via the Red Bull Technology organization. It’s not new, Mercedes had a long partnership with McLaren until Ross Brawn lured them away.
In the end, Red Bull having a bespoke engine partner is a very big move and while technically still a privateer, this adds a massive boost to their program for sure. The bigger question might be the other branch of VW, called Audi, and if they can get a deal sorted with Sauber/Alfa Romeo team for 75% ownership.
What do you think? Is this the right move? If they didn’t do a deal with Porsche, someone else would have. Will this part ownership of Red Bull’s technology group tie them to Red Bull long term and prevent others from using their engines? Let us know what you think. Also, once again, nice digging from Jonathan Noble on this.