Red Bull put Mercedes, Ferrari and others on notice with ‘just a brand’ jibe

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen leads ahead of Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen leading for Red Bull.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it may sound “nuts” that they will take on manufacturers like Mercedes, Ferrari and Audi with their own power unit, but stressed they are “just a brand” and “beatable” with the right approach.

Red Bull has achieved immense success in Formula 1 despite being an engine customer throughout its existence, their exclusive partnership with Honda having now helped to return Red Bull to the summit of Formula 1.

Red Bull scored an incredible 21 wins out of 22 grands prix in F1 2023, making them huge favourites for a further title double in F1 2024, though come 2026, they will take arguably their biggest risk yet by becoming a power unit manufacturer in their own right as the new regulations are introduced.

Red Bull ready to take on the F1 2026 power unit ‘brands’

It is a stacked line-up on the 2026 PU front, with big-name manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda, Renault and Audi already signed up, joined by the newly-established Red Bull Powertrains.

On the face of it, Horner says a “subsidiary of an energy drinks company” taking on those names is “nuts”, but stresses they are just that, names, and the quality of work will determine who produces the best power unit. recommends

F1 2026: Confirmed teams and power unit suppliers for F1’s huge regulation changes

F1 team principals: How long has each team boss been in charge?

Asked during the Secrets of Success podcast how the realisation sets in to trigger ‘big decisions’ like forming Red Bull Powertrains, Horner said: “I think you’ve got to be brutally honest with yourself and I think that sometimes you’ve got to take yourself out of the comfort zone.

“And I think that there’s a difference between risk and weighing up risk, and reckless decisions.

“And so you try to calculate the risk by doing your research, but then you need not be afraid of making a big decision, whether it’s moving from one manufacturer to another as an engine supplier, or even the biggest decision that we’ve had recently is to say, ‘Okay, as a subsidiary of an energy drinks company, we’re going to manufacture our own engine.

“‘We’re going to take on Mercedes and Ferrari and Renault and Audi and the might of the VW Group, on our own, as an independent engine manufacturer’.

“When you think about that, it’s completely nuts to think that we would have the wherewithal of an OEM, but again, it comes down to culture, it comes down to the quality of people, it comes down to the work ethic that there there is and that sense of team, obviously needing the right facilities and tools to do the job.

“And if you have those key ingredients in place, why can’t we beat Mercedes? Why can’t we beat Ferrari? It’s just a label, it’s just a brand. Anybody is beatable.”

Once Honda and Red Bull conclude their partnership at the end of 2025, Honda will switch allegiances to Aston Martin for Formula 1’s new era.

Read next: Big Mercedes W15 question posed with engine power strength assessed