Helmut Marko responds to Honda ‘Plan B’ suggestion in Red Bull Powertrains update

Thomas Maher
Zandvoort: Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko in the paddock at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko in the F1 paddock.

Helmut Marko has said there is no ‘Plan B’, should Red Bull fail to get their own power units competitive in time for 2026.

Red Bull enters their penultimate season powered by Honda engines in 2024, with the team managing to convince the departing manufacturer to keep a steady supply of power units going through the four-year engine freeze introduced immediately after their formal exit from the sport.

With no research and development needed, it’s been a successful arrangement for Red Bull, but the time is ticking for 2026 as they take on the manufacturing of their own engines – dubbed Red Bull Powertrains – for the beginning of the new rules cycle.

Helmut Marko: Red Bull Powertrains has to work

More than two years out from the introduction of the new engines, the manufacturers are in full-blown research and development phases, with Red Bull no different in that regard.

Last week, Italian media reported Ferrari had completed their first fire-up of an engine conforming to the current 2026 rules, and Helmut Marko has updated on how RBPT’s own progress is going.

“Even though we are still a long way from competitive use, everything is going according to plan and the performance curve is right,” Marko told Austrian publication OE24.

But, with Honda also returning to the sport in a formal capacity as they have signed an agreement to supply Aston Martin, is there any contingency plan for Red Bull, and sister team AlphaTauri, to call upon their current partners for a supply if the RBPT engines fall short?

“No, it has to work,” Marko said when asked if Honda represent a ‘Plan B’?

“From 2026, we will be racing with our own engine. Until then, we want the best possible performance potential from Honda, which has worked well so far.

“Honda was my deal, so I will continue to look after it.”

While Marko used to have to fly to Japan regularly in order to work with Honda, he confirmed he no longer has to do that: “No, everything is organised so that I no longer have to go there. 24 races are enough for me, and one of them is in Japan anyway.”

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Max Verstappen: Red Bull hope it’ll be a rocket

One man who really needs the RBPT engine to work out is Max Verstappen – the three-time World Champion has all the ingredients to challenge for the titles again in 2024 and ’25, but that status quo could change in ’26 with Red Bull introducing their own engines.

Does the Dutch driver see Red Bull’s dominance threatened by the change in ruleset, and the introduction of an independent engine?

“A difficult question. With a question mark,” he told Swiss publication Blick.

“But hundreds of people are working on this Red Bull Powertrains project in Milton Keynes.

“We don’t want to be caught on the wrong foot in 2026. We all hope it will be a rocket. We will see.”

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