Horner refutes Red Bull-Porsche claims
By Mat Coch
Saturday 1st May, 2021 - 8:09am
Christian Horner has swatted away suggestions that Red Bull is set to partner with Porsche on its Formula 1 engine programme.
Red Bull is in the process of standing up its Powertrains business as it brings its engine programme in-house at year end.
Honda is withdrawing from the sport at the conclusion of the 2021 season with the intellectual property of its power units set to be transferred to Red Bull.
It’s been suggested that such an approach affords the Milton Keynes squad the option to easily rebadge its engines should an opportunity present itself, or even work alongside a new manufacturer.
“I think, other than Ferrari, [it] makes us the only team to produce chassis and engine in-house and have a fully integrated solution between both technical teams,” Horner said of the project.
“And that’s particularly exciting and attractive.
“We’re are assembling, you know, an exceptionally talented group of people together. And, you know, we’re only at the beginning of that journey.
“In terms of what will the engine be badged as, at this point in time it’s clearly focused to be a Red Bull engine.”
Red Bull recently announced the signing of ex-Mercedes man Ben Hodgkinson to become the operation’s technical director.
The signing is one acknowledged by Mercedes’ team boss Toto Wolff.
“It was expected that this would happen,” the Austrian said of Red Bull signing Hodgkinson from Mercedes HPP.
“This [personnel] is just a battleground, such as the one on track, and you need to you need to acknowledge that.”
Speaking outside of the FIA press conference, Wolff expanded on his thoughts, suggesting Red Bull could be looking to join forces with the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG).
“On one side, they are keen on doing their own power unit, but it’s no secret that the Volkswagen Group with their two brands is looking at Formula 1, and has been part of the discussions,” Wolff suggested.
“So [Red Bull] can at any moment decide if they want to stick to their own power unit, or go with a top German manufacturer.
“On the other side, the arrangement they have on the IP side with Honda is really makes sense.
“They are taking over the IP from Honda and obviously developing the new power unit into 2025.
“It could stay within Red Bull power units, or it could go to Porsche/Audi, so overall, I think it makes sense what they do.”
An engine freeze is set to be introduced for next season and will run until the new power unit formula comes into effect in 2025.
Whether at that point they’ll still be ‘Red Bull’ engines is unclear, as Horner sidestepped the question.
“I think it’s a very clear statement of intent that we’re obviously investing heavily within the facilities on campus, is probably the single biggest investment the Red Bull have made in Formula One, certainly since acquiring the team from Jaguar back in 2004,” he said.
“So it’s a great commitment, and of course we’re gearing up to take on, embrace, whatever the new regulations are for, whether it be 2025 or 2026.”
Asked by Sky Sports during Free Practice 2 specifically about the Porsche link, as suggested by Wolff, the Red Bull boss was less subtle.
“It’s always nice to think he knows what’s going on in other people’s business,” quipped Horner.
“We’re building a fantastic facility, we’ve got some great talent coming into the facility.
“What the engine’s called is another matter. At the moment there’s no discussions in place, it’s focused on being a Red Bull engine but of course, that engine could be called anything in the future.”
Porsche and the broader VAG has long been linked with a move in to Formula 1, with suggestions again raising their heads as recently as March.
The German marque has previous form in F1, winning a race as a manufacturer in the 1960s, and helping McLaren to the world championship as an engine builder in the 1980s.
Its last foray however was less successful as it provided power to Footwork in 1991, the team abandoning the engines in favour of Ford DFR units before the end of the season.