Red Bull and Ford gear up for 2026 engine debut

Red Bull is making strides in collaboration with its new partner Ford as they prepare to fire up the first complete 2026 engine in the coming weeks.

Dr. Helmut Marko revealed that the test bench will run the combustion engine, MGU-K, and battery together, marking a significant step in the development process.

“We are, we think, on a par with Mercedes in terms of development. I can’t judge Renault, but Ferrari is behind us. With our incoming partner Ford, everything is also going according to plan,” Marko shared with Speed Week at Spa Francorchamps.

During the F1 Commission meeting at the same circuit on Friday, Red Bull expressed concerns about the increased influence of electronic components in the 2026 power unit. While some of these concerns were dismissed, the FIA has agreed to work on a “significant reduction in the size and weight” of the 2026 cars, including improved “energy management” to address Red Bull’s apprehensions.

“We’re on track. But the fact that we are proposing a changed ratio in the hybrid drive envisaged by the FIA is also due to safety concerns. The batteries will then weigh 100 kilograms, the cars will be heavier, and have to be bigger. We don’t think that’s a good thing,” Marko stated.

He further added, “We will be driving with e-fuels, so emissions will no longer play a role.”

In their pursuit of developing the 2026 engine, Red Bull has recruited multiple engine specialists from Mercedes for its new engine subsidiary. Marko, however, denied that the team needed to entice them with higher salaries.

“No. Other factors played a role for these new employees – our spirit, our passion,” the 80-year-old clarified. “We were attractive to them as racers.

“On a campus that now has 15 buildings, we have chassis and engine development in a single location – the only one to do this apart from Ferrari.”