Last week, Red Bull and Ford announced a partnership for the American automaker to join Formula 1 in 2026 as a power unit supplier. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), however, has poured a little rain on the Red Bull-Ford parade. International motorsport’s governing body has deemed the partnership not to be a new power unit manufacturer, which curtails benefits given to new entrants.
Instead the 2026 hybrid F1 power unit will be built by Red Bull Powertrains. While Red Bull’s independent power plant arm may have never developed an engine before the 2026 regulations, the company assembles the battery packs for its current Honda power unit. According to Motorsport.com, the FIA ruled out Red Bull Powertrains as a new manufacturer because of this experience.
How this all will work: Under F1’s regulations, regulators view new power unit manufacturers in three unequal parts for status approval. The engine maker’s infrastructure compromises 40 percent. F1 internal combustion engine competence is 50 percent of the assessment and F1 energy recovery system competence is only 10 percent.
As a new manufacturer, Red Bull Ford Powertrains would be given that entire resource budget. The FIA’s decision, however, will now grant only 90 percent of additional resources and Red Bull-Ford will lose out on 10 percent. The 10 percent loss of resources translates to about $2.5 million under the cost cap over the next three years and a $1.5 million loss in capital spending. Besides the financial hits, Red Bull Ford Powertrains will also lose technical resources, like allowed dynamometer time.
Considering that the electric motor will produce almost half of the 2026 F1 power unit’s total 1,000 horsepower output, a 10 percent reduction doesn’t seem appropriate. However, the regulations were crafted and agreed to by all the existing teams in Formula 1, so, at least they can’t say they didn’t see this coming.