Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has confirmed talks with McLaren CEO Zak Brown about a possible engine deal from the 2026 Formula 1 season.
Red Bull Powertrains is one of six manufacturers registered for the new engine regulations and will then work with US manufacturer Ford.
McLaren, on the other hand, is still looking for a potential engine partner. The racing team has been a Mercedes customer since 2021, after previously parting ways with Honda and temporarily having to rely on Renault drives.
2026 sees a whole new set of engine regulations and Brown has already visited Red Bull in Milton Keynes to explore the possibility of an engine partnership, as Horner confirms: “I thought he’d be over for lunch,” he jokes.
“But as an engine manufacturer for 2026, it is inevitable that we will have talks about possible equipment,” said the Brit. “So it’s normal for us to talk to potential customers.”
Formula 1: “Solid partnership” between McLaren and Mercedes, but …
The new McLaren team boss Andrea Stella meanwhile emphasizes that the team has a “solid partnership” with Mercedes. But: “At the same time, looking to the future, of course you want to understand what’s available. That’s natural. That shouldn’t be a big surprise.”
At the launch of the McLaren MCL60, Brown said the team was “very happy” with Mercedes, but that they were still exploring options for the future: “We still have some time to decide what we want to do in 2026. We have no rush. Let’s see how things go in the coming year.”
Meanwhile, Christian Horner emphasizes that an engine customer does not actually bring any financial advantages. Sister team AlphaTauri is currently also driving with Honda technology and is to be equipped with the Red Bull engine from 2026.
Of the possibility of another customer, he says: “The cost of equipment is predetermined. As we see now, there is no money to supply customer teams. It’s not a profitable business.”
However, customer deals offer other advantages: a manufacturer receives a lot more data from the kilometers driven by another team.