Christian Horner has admitted that Red Bull Powertrains would likely not exist if Honda made a decision on continuing its involvement in Formula 1 earlier.
Honda was announced as one of the six listed as power unit suppliers for the 2026 F1 season by the FIA, despite initially stating that it would withdraw due to its focus on electrification technologies instead of combustion engines.
It later announced that it would be partnering with Aston Martin, while Red Bull will link up with Ford as part of its in-house power unit operation in 2026.
Horner says the decision to make their own engines was taken due to Honda's reluctance to continue, but believes it was the right one as they have "outgrown" being an F1 engine customer.
"Well, it was certainly an expensive decision," said Horner to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"We've outgrown being a customer and for us to have the power unit onsite, on campus, integrated fully within the chassis [team] and the synergies that creates with engine and chassis engineers sitting next to each other, the advantages are significant.
"We wouldn't have made that jump had it not been for Honda's withdrawal. [But] we should be grateful for Honda giving us that push to create our own engine facility and the jobs that it's created and provided."
Red Bull has previously been the de facto works outfit for various engine manufacturers in F1, including Renault between the 2011 and 2015 season.
Horner says the deal with Ford coupled with Red Bull Powertrains will take the team to a "new level" for the 2026 season.
"Having experienced different relationships with different engine manufacturers, to have the ability to specify certain parameters within the engine and fully integrate with your chassis tea, that's something that's completely new for us.
"I think we experienced [that] to a degree with Honda, but now taking to a new level for the 2026 season."
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Horner: Too many compromises on both sides to continue
Prior to making the commitment with Ford, Horner admitted that Red Bull discussed the opportunity to link up RBPT with Honda last year.
Honda's main focus would have been on the electrification like Ford, but the Team Principal says there was "too many compromises" needed on both sides to make it happen.
"Originally the deal was that they were going to be totally out of the sport by the end of 2022 and we'd be responsible for assembling the engines ourselves," he explained.
"We managed to convince Honda to remain and to continue to assemble those engines to the end of 2025. We then had discussions in the autumn and heading into the winter of last year about whether there a potential any link-up regarding the electrification, because combustion was still something that they were not keen to continue with.
"There was too many compromises probably from both sides that would need to be made to enable that to happen. So that's when we decided to take up the option with Ford and make our commitment."