‘Might worry if still alive tomorrow’ – Max Verstappen hits back at Red Bull-Ford 2026 speculation

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Red Bull’s emergence on the Formula 1 power unit scene from 2026 ranks very low in Max Verstappen’s thoughts for now, despite the “very big task” ahead and risk that his dominance could end.

Red Bull has been an engine customer throughout their Formula 1 tenure – which has seen them win six Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ titles – though from 2026, they will take the plunge by becoming a power unit manufacturer in their own right under the new regulations, working in conjunction with Ford.

2026 not on the mind of Max Verstappen yet

The current PU partnership with Honda has proven extremely successful for Red Bull, with the team and Verstappen having established themselves as the dominant force of F1, but Honda will power Aston Martin from 2026, freeing Red Bull to embark on this new venture.

But while there is the potential for this journey into the unknown to stop Red Bull and Verstappen in their tracks, it is certainly not something on Verstappen’s mind now in early 2024.

“I mean, if I have to speculate about everything, I might be worried if I’m still alive tomorrow, right?” Verstappen joked when the Red Bull-Ford PU was brought up.

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On a more serious note though, Verstappen said there is no reason to “panic” about 2026 with preparations pushing ahead flat out at Red Bull’s newly-created engine division in Milton Keynes.

And Verstappen keeps in regular contact with team principal Christian Horner over how plans are progressing.

“I don’t really worry about that too much because I am in close contact also with Christian about that,” Verstappen continued.

“Everyone’s working flat out so there is no need to panic about that, and also it’s still not 2026. We know that it is a very big task, we don’t take that lightly and of course, with so many well-established engine manufacturers.

“We don’t think it’s going to be easy to beat them but we have a lot of good people working on the project and we’re very excited about it so time will tell where it’s going to be.”

The 2026 PUs – which will feature a greater reliance on electrical power while costs have been reduced – have proven attractive to manufacturers, with Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull-Ford, Audi, Honda and Renault having all signed up.

That season will also feature new regulations on the chassis side as well as the power units.

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