A reported move from Ferrari, Mercedes and Audi has stopped Red Bull from gaining an advantage when it comes to becoming a power unit supplier.
Red Bull had been angling to be branded as a ‘new’ power unit supplier for 2026 onwards as that would have granted them more hours of bench tests in comparison to their existing competitors, but that request has reportedly been denied.
It comes after reported pressure from existing PU suppliers Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault as well as Audi who will join the sport from 2026 onwards.
Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Ferrari president John Elkann and CEO Benedetto Vigna led the campaign and are said to have “asserted the political weight of the Prancing Horse.”
The teams argued to the FIA that despite Red Bull Powertrains only coming into existence in 2022, they had plenty of expertise and knowledge already that put them a step ahead of an entirely new entity.
The aggrieved parties cited the arrival of high-profile signings such as former Mercedes head of mechanical engineering Ben Hodgkinson as well as five other engineers from the Silver Arrows’ Brixworth factory.
Red Bull Powertrains, which will be rebranded as Red Bull Ford Powertrains from 2026, is also working with Honda until 2025 and it was argued that Red Bull’s knowledge of hybrid and electrification in F1 was so extensive that it can be considered on par with the competition.
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Had Ford chosen to supply a power unit independently then they would have been entitled to the extra hours, as is the case with Audi.
The Italian newspaper also reports that Ferrari reportedly refused to agree to an FIA document until Red Bull’s status had been clarified. The sport’s governing body announced last week that six power unit suppliers had so far been confirmed for 2026.
PlanetF1.com has reached out to Red Bull for comment.
Team boss Christian Horner believes the first engine entirely made at their Milton Keynes base will be fitted to a Red Bull car later this year and said hitting the ambitious deadline was a “ballsy undertaking.”
“We’ve got 150 weeks left before we have an engine driving out of a pit lane for the first time in the back of a Red Bull car,” Horner told Motorsport Magazine. “So that focuses the mind, it’s a big challenge. It’s a ballsy undertaking, to think that an independent team can take on those type of manufacturers.
“But again, it comes down to the same culture, the same approach that we’ve had to going racing on the chassis side, and ultimately having everything under one roof and the benefits that brings long-term is significant. So that’s taking quite a bit of my time and attention just to make sure that we’re hitting our targets in that area.”