Audi, Ford and Honda are already onboard for the new era of Formula 1 power units, and Stefano Domenicali suggested the door is still open.
Formula 1 is currently enjoying one of its greatest periods yet when it comes to popularity, that evidenced in the expanding calendar, blockbuster grand prix attendances and increase to three rounds in the United States for 2023.
And looking further ahead, the series will continue its push towards carbon neutrality with the introduction of brand new power units as of the 2026 season, these featuring an increased focus on electrical power and the use of fully-sustainable fuels on the Internal Combustion Engine side.
From that year Audi will enter the sport in partnership with Sauber, that team operating as an Audi works outfit and running an Audi power unit, while Ford will partner-up with Red Bull as Red Bull Powertrains and Ford enters their first originally-designed power unit from 2026.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s technical partner Honda has also stated their intention to return as a full-blown power unit manufacturer in 2026, with all eyes on that situation to see which team they partner up with.
This means already then that six power unit manufacturers are signed-up for 2026, those being Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull-Ford, Audi and Honda.
As for who will not be joining the party, BMW has already made it clear that they are not interested, but Formula 1 president and CEO Domenicali suggested this does not mean that all observing parties have now shown their hand.
Put to him by Sky Sports F1 that Audi, Ford and Honda are great news for Formula 1, he replied: “Yes I think so, because if you think that just couple of years ago, we had to change the regulations in order to allow teams to have more engines from a single engine manufacturer, because otherwise we would have a problem.
“And now we are in a situation where two very important manufacturers [Audi and Ford] are joining, maybe some others. I don’t want to say anything, but maybe, you never know, and this is great.
“Of course, the focus will be to keep the right balance between teams, constructors and manufacturers, to shape the sport in the right way that we want.
“The technology has been always a significant part of Formula 1, but technology is not enough. To believe that only technology can be connected to Formula 1 would be a mistake. We are a sport, entertainment where technology is part of it.
“We are not just a dyno R&D test for manufacturers because the emotional side, if you miss that, the sport will collapse. So that is great news.
“Everyone is coming because I believe that everyone is recognising the power of today of Formula 1, and also I believe the right choice in terms of technology that are related to our hybridisation and sustainable fuel approach for the future.
“So I think that’s the mix of the reason why we see such an incredible attention from the manufacturers coming to Formula 1.”
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Another manufacturer that was pushing to enter Formula 1 from 2026 was Porsche, though their talks with Red Bull broke down, leaving them without a clear route into the series as it stands.
Domenicali acknowledged that the situation grows harder for Porsche if they are to join the series as more time passes, but believes they remain interested and hopes to hear some news in the near future.
“I think that Porsche is really thinking if there are opportunities that can be available for them,” he said.
“Of course, the more the time is passing, the more difficult it is to be effective with a technical and a commercial proposition. But I really hope that we can have some more news in the short-term.”