V8s or V10s to return to F1? Christian Horner thinks it is possible…

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner has given some hope that F1 could return to V8 or V10 engines in future thanks to the new power unit regulations being introduced in 2026.

Ask the vast majority of long-time F1 fans what they miss most about yesteryear and the answer will be the sound of a screaming V8 or V10 engine being blasted around the track. The noise will never fail to make the hairs on your arms stand up and take notice.

But, with F1 overhauling the V6 hybrid power units to place a greater emphasis on electric power and sustainable fuels as part of a push to become carbon neutral by 2030, Horner thinks there could be a chance that the new rules could provide a platform for these iconic power units to return.

“Well, for me, it demonstrates that the combustion engine isn’t dead yet,” Horner told reporters in Monaco. “That there’s still life in combustion, because obviously when they withdrew, it was because of electrification.

“And I think perhaps with sustainable fuels and zero emissions and the route that Formula is going for 2026, combustion became relevant to them again, whereas it was something that was very much off their agenda.

“And so who knows? Maybe we’ll get to back to V8 and V10s that are fully sustainable. Wouldn’t that be fantastic.”

Horner has also spoken about the effect the new 2026 engine regulations have had on current power unit supplier Honda, who have now decided to return to F1 in a full-time capacity again with Aston Martin.

But, rather than be angry with the Japanese manufacturer, Horner thinks Red Bull should actually be thankful for their actions.


“It was certainly an expensive decision but look, I think for us, for the long term prospects of Red Bull, we’ve outgrown being a customer,” said the team boss.

“For us to have the power unit on site, on campus, integrated fully with chassis and the synergies that creates, with engine and chassis engineers sitting next to each other, I think for us, for the long term, the advantages are significant.

“And we would not have made that jump had it not been for Honda’s withdrawal, so in many respects, Honda, we should be grateful for giving us that push to create our own engine facility and the jobs that it’s created and provided and then, of course, the partnership that we have with Ford that’s particularly exciting for the future. And the commitment, obviously, from Red Bull and the shareholders to the project.

“Would we have made the same decision knowing what Honda’s decision is today? Absolutely not. But we’ve made it and we’re committed to it and the more we’ve got involved, the more benefit we see to the group long term.”

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With Red Bull already committed to Ford, Honda will instead create a works partner with Aston Martin that begins in 2026.

“I think it’s positive for Honda, it’s positive for Formula 1,” Horner said of Honda’s decision to remain in F1. “They’re a great brand. And have got a great legacy in the sport.

“We’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy, and will do so for another two and a half years, a great relationship and supply with them.

“Obviously, they announced their withdrawal in 2020. And that forced us to make a decision, long term-wise as to what strategically was the best route forward for us.

“And so, we created Red Bull Powertrains, they agreed to become a technical supplier to Red Bull Powertrains, and we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship.

“But of course, now we’re off on our own journey as an engine manufacturer, with the partnership with Ford. And that’s exciting for us for the future.

“But, you know, Honda, from ’26 will become a competitor, but I think it’s positive for Formula 1, it’s positive for them to remain in the sport.”