It seems as if the Red Bull and Porsche partnership is dead.
Red Bull and Porsche have been linked since Volkswagen announced that two of its sportiest brands would return to the F1 grid. Audi was linked to multiple teams, but recent events seem to support our earlier report that it will buy the Alfa Romeo F1 team.
Porsche has not been linked to any team but Red Bull from the start. The rumors were so strong that we expected an announcement at Red Bull's home race in Austria earlier this year, but the final engine regulation agreements had not been signed. The regulations were finally approved in mid-August, and a day later, Porsche filed its F1nally trademark.
It seemed like the best partnership in F1 history was just waiting for the right time to make the announcement.
According to the latest reports, the deal is dead. We find this quite odd, given how far the deal progressed. In late July, Porsche and Red Bull had to file paperwork in more than 20 countries to get permission from anti-cartel authorities. This is standard practice in several countries, but the paperwork from the Moroccan submission leaked.
The Moroccan paperwork revealed that Porsche was planning on buying 50% of Red Bull, giving both parties an equal stake. Max Verstappen could finally get rid of his Honda Civic Type R and get a brand-new 911 GT3 RS. Everyone wins, right?
From a regulation perspective, the deal made sense. Red Bull is currently powered by Honda powertrains, and the engineers are on record stating they were struggling with sustainable fuel.
Porsche has more experience than most regarding sustainable fuel, not to mention electrification. Both will play a significant role in the 2026 regulations, but powertrain development has to start as early as possible. That's likely why Audi got its announcement out of the way as soon as possible.
The main stumbling block appears to be Christian Horner. In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Horner stated that 2026 is still a long way away and that the team is making great strides with their first in-house powertrain. At the moment, Honda is still providing support, but Red Bull's goal before the Volkswagen announcement was to move its powertrain development in-house.
"It's great to see Audi coming into the sport, and anything Red Bull would consider would have to fit in with the long-term strategy of the team. There's plenty of time ahead," said Horner. "Any relationship with any manufacturer or partner would have to fit with Red Bull."
As you can hear from the interview with Horner, it's obvious that he has great faith in Red Bull's own powertrain unit and that the plan is to carry on without any outside interference. "Our train has left the station, and we have circa 300 people working on our 2026 engine," said Horner. "They [Porsche, or any other potential partner] need to decide whether they want to join that party or not. But they would have to be within the culture of the way we go racing."
One of the reasons why Red Bull was keen to build its power unit in-house was to have everyone under one roof. That means Porsche would have to set up shop in Milton Keynes, which it seems keen to do. When Audi made its announcement, Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, stated that Audi and Porsche would work separately. He specifically mentioned that Porsche would be building power units in the UK. That's a rather significant concession, given that Porsche's racing machines usually come out of Stuttgart.
To us, it seems like Horner is playing hardball in the media and that there's something the two teams can't quite agree on. As much faith as it has in its power unit, Red Bull needs Porsche's expertise.
Is there another possibility? McLaren's team principal, Andreas Seidl, used to run Porsche's Le Mans team. But that's the only connection we can see, and neither team has made any attempt at having talks.
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