With the launch of Red Bull’s new RB19, Ford also announced its partnership with Red Bull for 2026 onward. Perhaps not the best kept secret but in the end, it does make you wonder what happened to Porsche and Honda with regards to Red Bull’s future partnership?
Honda seems a little more understandable given their fickle nature to F1 and having announced their departure from the sport in 2021. This left Red Bull in a bit of a challenging spot as they had to double down on their program and make the financial decision to just make their own engine. That’s still their intent but they did end up speaking with Porsche, Honda and Ford regardless.
It is said that Porsche wanted too much of Red Bull as in controlling interest while Honda may have stalled because, and get this, just working on the hybrid system wasn’t enough for them. This from a team that can’t decide if they want to be in F1 or not. I’m sorry, I know everyone is excited about their return to F1 but I think their optics are somewhat poor. They left the sport abruptly in 2008 only to have their abandoned team win the title in 2009. Then they left the sport abruptly in 2021 only to have their partner win the title two years running.
Now they want to come back to the sport as a full supplier of engines or possibly even more. If I were Red Bull, I wouldn’t want to be heavily leveraged in a company that is as fickle about their F1 commitment as Honda has been. This leaves Ford.
Ford is happy to work on the hybrid portion of Red Bull’s engine equation as well as software and other technology. It’s a global company with global appeal and it has unfinished work in F! Given their abrupt departure as a Jaguar brand.
It does seem like the better deal for Red Bull and while making the ICE portion of the power unit is expensive, the hybrid portion is even more expensive so Ford’s participation in a minority partnership position is a welcome sight.
This does leave questions about who Honda and Porsche might work with. While the official registration for power unit suppliers is completed with six names (Ferrari, Mercedes, Alpine/Renault, Red Bull/Ford, Audi and Honda), it is missing Porsche but according to reports, that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to enter later.
So Porsche’s option are becoming slim as are Honda’s aspiration. There is still the concept of Andretti Autosport/Cadillac and I’m wondering, now, if Andretti might not have had a better chance with Honda. All of this is very interesting and I’m intrigued by Porsche and Honda’s next moves. The one unknown is McLaren, could they be lured into a Porsche or Honda deal?