It's a win-win for both manufacturers.
Formula 1 is introducing all-new engine rules for the 2026 season with the sole aim of luring more manufacturers to the sport. This new tactic seems to be working, as both Audi and Porsche are rumored to be joining the sport.
We weren't expecting any concrete announcements until at least 2024, but it seems Porsche is exceptionally close to signing a deal with Red Bull. According to Motorsport.com, Porsche will be the official powertrain supplier for Red Bull from 2026.
The 2026 engine regulations are pretty significant, as F1 is getting rid of powertrain components that have no relevant application in the real world.
The current hybrid powertrains use two main systems to recharge the car's battery. The MGU-K is essentially an advanced version of regenerative braking. At the same time, the MGU-H uses surfeit exhaust gases to charge an energy storage system that powers the compressor that powers the turbocharger. The latter is being dumped in 2026. In an automotive world intent on going 100% electric, it has no real-world application. It's also the most expensive out of the two systems to develop and build.
Building an MGU-K for Formula 1 would be easy for Porsche by 2026. All of the power unit components should be well known to the Germans by then. We recently uncovered a new Porsche turbocharger patent, proving that it intends to keep internal combustion alive, and let's not forget about all the brilliant work it's doing with synthetic fuels.
Most importantly, Porsche will be back at Le Mans next year with a hybrid LMDh car. If it can get a 670-hp hybrid car to work for 24 hours, an F1 engine should be child's play.
According to Motorsport.com, the announcement could be made as early as March. Helmut Marko represents the F1 team, while the VW Group's head of motorsport, Fritz Enzinger, is negotiating on behalf of the German side.
It also appears that other deals are also in the making, with Audi reportedly talking to McLaren. McLaren is currently supplied by Mercedes-Benz, while Red Bull moved its powertrain department in-house after Honda departed the F1 world at the end of 2021. Honda will still support Red Bull up until 2026.
Both deals could work out great for all involved. It would be a glorious return to the days of race on a Sunday, sell on a Monday. The new regulations keep the 1.6-liter V6 format, but with increased electrification. More importantly, the FIA is implementing a cost cap.
Since Red Bull isn't tied to any one car brand, it's a perfect fit for Porsche. Porsche could use any wins gained in F1 as a solid marketing strategy. Imagine a Porsche Taycan with a battery from an F1 car…
Mercedes-Benz demonstrated how difficult it is to use an F1 ICE engine in a car, but a battery would be much easier.
And with Audi dropping the R8, there's no overlap between what will be its all-electric portfolio and the mad machines made in Woking.