Watch out Ferrari and Audi: Red Bull’s F1 2026 engine is ‘miles ahead’

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's F1 factory in Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom.

The Red Bull Racing F1 factory, in Milton Keynes, UK.

Rather than Red Bull Powertrains struggling to hit targets, advisor Helmut Marko says they are “miles ahead” of Audi and Ferrari in the development of their new power unit for 2026.

That will mark the year where Formula 1 ushers in its next major overhaul to the regulations when a new breed of power units are unleashed.

These will be simpler and cheaper with the axing of the MGU-H element, while also featuring a greater reliance on electrical power and the use of fully-sustainable fuels on the Internal Combustion Engine side.

Ferrari and Audi have work to do against Red Bull

The regulations for 2026 are set, but recently Red Bull principal Christian Horner called for some revisions to be made, fearing that drivers were going to need to downshift on the straights in order to harvest electrical energy for these power units.

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff subsequently shut that possibility down, suggesting it was born from Red Bull perhaps fearing that their Red Bull Powertrains division, which has partnered with Ford, was not finding the desired success with their power unit.

It is quite the opposite though Marko ensures, who believes while Mercedes are about on a par with the development of their PU, Ferrari and newcomers Audi are lagging “miles behind” in the process.

“I don’t think we are technically behind. We have brought in people from Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth [for the engine department],” Marko told Motorsport-Total.com.

“We have Ford as a partner in the sector. We have absolute top people on the combustion engine. And we have two very bright minds on the electric side.

“In August, we are running a complete combustion engine with MGU-K and battery. There we are miles ahead of Audi, we are miles ahead of Ferrari, and Mercedes is about the same.”

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Audi, who will partner with Sauber from F1 2026, for reference have announced that their first prototype 2026 PU will be running before F1 2023 is over.

And on Horner’s concerns about the “Frankenstein” 2026 regulations, Marko stressed that Red Bull are solely interested in “really good sport” in Formula 1, and so do not want to see this new era get off to a dull start

“We are just passionate racers, and we care,” said Marko.

“We are not in Formula 1 to get rich. We want there to be really good sport again. And that’s where we have concerns.”

Red Bull are obliterating the current competition in Formula 1, with their star driver Max Verstappen 125 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez at the top of the Drivers’ standings and marching towards his third World Championship crown in as many seasons.

Red Bull meanwhile are 256 points clear of closest rivals Mercedes in the Constructors’.

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