Adrian Newey Discloses Red Bull Powertrains’ Primary Mission in Revealing Interview.

Adrian Newey has recently disclosed the primary objective of the newly formed Red Bull Powertrains division: thorough preparation for the significant transition expected in the 2026 season, where Red Bull will step into the role of an independent engine supplier.

This upcoming milestone represents a historic moment for the Red Bull team as they embark on the journey of manufacturing their own engines, free from dependence on external suppliers. While they will benefit from collaboration with Ford, as evidenced by their agreement to operate as Red Bull Ford Powertrains starting from 2026, this arrangement marks a departure from their previous partnerships with suppliers like Honda.

The creation of Red Bull Powertrains demonstrates the team’s determination to control their destiny and embrace a new era of self-sufficiency in engine development.

Ever since Red Bull burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 2005, they have relied on a variety of engine suppliers, including Cosworth, Ferrari, Renault, and most recently Honda. However, faced with uncertainty when Honda initially announced its departure from F1 after the 2021 season (later reversed), Red Bull, mindful of their previous turbulent relationship with Renault, made a bold decision to take control by establishing their own in-house engine supply. This move aligns them with the prestigious ranks of Mercedes, Ferrari, and Alpine.

To undertake such a substantial undertaking, Red Bull struck a unique agreement with Honda, resulting in the engines from 2022 onward being branded as Red Bull Powertrains, while still receiving support from the Japanese supplier in their construction.

However, a significant shift will occur in 2026 when new engine regulations come into effect. Adrian Newey, the mastermind behind Red Bull’s engineering success, has unveiled that their power unit division has now shifted its undivided attention towards preparing for that critical season. The sole focus of Red Bull Powertrains is to ensure they are fully equipped and ready for the new era of engine regulations.

“On the chassis side, not so much,” Newey replied when asked on the Talking Bull podcast how much the 2026 regulation changes were affecting his plans. “On the engine side? Yes, absolutely. So Ben Hodgkinson [technical director at Red Bull Powertrains] and the RB Powertrains team, their sole focus is the ’26 engine.

“On the chassis side, for the ’26 engine, we’re looking at how that packages. So Rob Marshall [Editor’s note – Marshall will leave Red Bull to join McLaren at the start of 2024], is kind of the guy that’s really looking after us and he’s doing a great job, looking forward at how we integrate all that.

“But other than that, we don’t have a proper set of ergonomic regulations or anything else yet to go on so there’s no point in us spending too much time on that until we have a much more defined set of regulations.”

When it comes to the impact of engine design on Adrian Newey and his skilled team of chassis builders, the true challenge lies in seamlessly integrating it into the car. Newey understands that it’s not just about the engine itself, but how it harmoniously blends with the overall design of the vehicle.

The real trick lies in striking the perfect balance and achieving optimal integration, ensuring that the engine and chassis work together in perfect harmony to deliver exceptional performance on the track.

“When you’re designing this [an F1 car], you have the basic architecture, the engine is a key part,” the 64-year-old said.

“Because Formula 1 cars for many years now, you’ve got the basic structure of driver, fuel tank, battery. Nowadays, of course, underneath the fuel tank, engine, gearbox with the tailbone, everything and then the radiators on the side.

“So that basic structure kind of sorts out your underlying architecture if you like, which is why the wheelbase isn’t so long, because by the time you package that, get the weight distribution that you want, you end up with these gigantic cars and they are huge.

“So the engine… yes of course, it’s key, the detail of the integration is kind of then the real trick now because by regulation, they’re all 90 degree V6 1.6 litres that’s turbocharged with a hybrid system.

“So that’s all kind of in there and baked in. It’s not like the old days where somebody might have a V8, somebody have V10 and another person have V12. That’s long gone. But within that kind of V6 thing, there’s still a lot of detail of how to integrate the engine.”