Christian Horner has shed further light on what the future holds for the Red Bull Powertrains operation, with the team set to partner with Ford to develop their engines for 2026 onwards.
With engine regulations set to undergo a dramatic change for the 2026 F1 season – power units will run on 100 percent sustainable fuels and increased electrical power – Ford will offer their expertise to Red Bull Powertrains as they prepare for the new generation.
In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Horner gave an insight into future plans for the company, revealing that he expects the headcount in the team to be "circa between 450 and 475".
"You have a cost cap constraint now," Horner explained, when referring to the cost cap rules on power units that will come into effect in 2026.
"So, unlike the chassis where we've had to come on a blind slope down, this way, we've been able to shape the business to what the cap is."
Supplying other teams?
Red Bull and their sister team AlphaTauri currently both run Honda Red Bull Powertrains engines. In terms of the possibility of supplying other teams on the grid, it is known that McLaren are one of those to have visited the squad's facility in Milton Keynes.
In terms of how the engines will be branded, Horner stated that the matter will be "decided between ourselves", but reiterated that the relationship with Ford will "cover the two teams".
However, Horner is understandably keeping the identity of any other interested parties close to his chest.
"I think initially [we will supply] just two [teams] because, as a start-up, as a brand new engine manufacturer, I think it would be overstretching ourselves if we went beyond that," he said.
"And I think that we just want to focus on servicing the two Red Bull teams first. We've had a lot of interest from other teams – at least two teams have shown interest. But we're not ready for that yet."
However, this could change in the future, with Horner adding: "We have a capacity to take on extra teams should we want to in future years, but probably for the first couple of years, we want to focus on just the Red Bull-owned teams as we establish the business, the trackside operations, all the things of supplying and delivering engines in a competitive environment."
There has been much talk in recent times of new teams joining the F1 field in the years ahead.
Reflecting on whether the FIA could call upon Red Bull Powertrains to supply one of these outfits, Horner suggested that the possibility is unlikely.
"They could do it. It's unlikely they'd do that on a newcomer unless quite a few of the other manufacturers pulled out," the team boss added.
"There is an obligation in the regulations if called upon, but I think that probability is zero."
In terms of how the engines will be branded, Horner stated that the matter will be "decided between ourselves", but reiterated that the relationship with Ford will "cover [our] two teams".
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Future of AlphaTauri
Speculation emerged earlier in the year over the possibility of the AlphaTauri outfit being sold. However, Horner has stated that there are "no plans" for this currently, with RacingNews365 revealing that Red Bull rejected a $800m buyout offer.
"It would be mighty attractive to any potential investor in the team, but there [are] no plans from the shareholders to sell or dilute their standing in AlphaTauri," Horner commented.
"And I think that's the right decision in the way the regulations currently sit in Formula 1."
Impact of budget cap
For Red Bull Powertrains, Horner admits that the budget cap was "key" in encouraging the project to go ahead, with the announcement of the plans first made following Honda's decision to withdraw from F1 at the end of the 2021 season.
"Initially we were going to have a licencing deal with Honda to build their engines under licence," Horner explained.
"The more you dug into it, their IP, trying to work with Japanese suppliers, it would have been impossible.
"So in the end, thankfully – due to the good relationship we have with Honda – we contracted their services to the end of 2025, whilst focusing on the new set-up for 2026.
"Initially it was going to be a four-cylinder engine and a very different architecture, so it would have been a clean sheet for everybody. Whereas, basically, what we've ended up with is a current engine without the H [MGU-H] and a bigger battery.
"So that gives the incumbents a significant carryover advantage, which we are obviously pedalling hard to catch up."
Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Miami Grand Prix.