Christian Horner has admitted that Red Bull would certainly not have developed its F1 engine program if it had been known that Honda would return to the championship in 2026.
Honda announced its exit in 2021, but has agreed to supply its engine to Red Bull until the end of 2025, when the current powertrain regulations expire.
However, the Japanese manufacturer will return to the series in 2026 as a factory partner of Aston Martin, while Red Bull has already created its own production unit. Max Verstappen, who gave Honda the drivers’ championship in 2021 and 2022 as well as the constructors’ title last season, has admitted it is a shame that Honda will become Aston’s partner.
Horrner added that if Red Bull had known about Honda’s return, it would never have started its own engine program, despite all the disadvantages of being a customer. When asked about the motives behind this approach, Horner said:
This is definitely a very expensive decision!
From Red Bull’s perspective, we have grown as a customer. Having our drive unit, fully integrated with the chassis, creates a synergy between our engineers who can work side by side. In the long run, this will provide clear benefits. We wouldn’t have done it without Honda leaving.
In many ways, we have them to thank for the catalyst that led to our engine division he continued.
The jobs it has created in the country and our future partnership with Ford promises to be exciting for Red Bull and other stakeholders in this project. Would we have made this decision knowing Honda wasn’t going away? Of course not. But we have already taken it and we are holding it. The older we get, the more meaning we see in the long run.
Red Bull and Honda entered into talks at the end of 2022 about a possible partnership from 2026, when F1 will phase out the complicated and expensive MGU-H system. There has been talk of supplying a hybrid engine, as Honda previously admitted that it had dropped F1 to free up money for electrifying road cars. However, Horner admitted that both sides would have to make many compromises, and Red Bull later introduced Ford as its new partner.