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Why Porsche’s Red Bull F1 plans appear dead in the water

For months it had been an open secret that Red Bull and Porsche would be tying up for a joint Formula 1 venture for the new engine rules era in 2026.

Why Porsche’s Red Bull F1 plans appear dead in the water
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There had been an original plan for a press announcement about the partnership to be made at the Austrian Grand Prix, and matters had progressed enough for Porsche to seek permission for a buy-in of the team with anti-cartel authorities.

But as fellow Volkswagen Group manufacturer Audi confirmed its entry from 2026 at the Belgian GP, the silence that emerged from the Porsche and Red Bull camps about their own plans hinted at there being some last minute bumps in the road.

And those obstacles now appear to have grown into solid brick walls, and point to any possibility of a joint F1 team venture between Red Bull and Porsche – which involved a sale of shares in the Milton Keynes F1 team – to be firmly off the table.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko told website F1-Insider.com at Zandvoort quite definitively on Sunday night: “Porsche will not become a shareholder in us."

Motorsport.com and sister website Motorsport-total.com has had it confirmed by several sources with good knowledge of the situation that Marko’s statement is the reality of the situation.

There will be no formal buy-in of the F1 team by Porsche as originally anticipated – and at best all that is available is a deal with Red Bull powertrains that could prompt a rebadging of the engines.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Erik Junius

It is understood that behind the scenes at Porsche, there is great disappointment at the collapse of the deal. And also some debate about if the FIA’s approval of the engine regulations had been ratified earlier as originally planned, to open the door for the Austrian GP announcement, how different things could have been right now.

What appears to have happened in the wake of the rules delay – and the final tweaking of the 2026 regulations regarding new entrant concessions – is that Red Bull chiefs Christian Horner and Marko backed away from thinking that the 50/50 partnership with Porsche from 2026 was the best thing for the F1 squad.

Initially, it is understood that the negotiations were quite uncomplicated. But the longer the talks lasted, and the deeper they went into details of how things would work, the more Porsche managers sat at the table, and the greater the scepticism grew at the Milton Keynes camp.

For with Red Bull knowing it has star driver Max Verstappen, ace designer Adrian Newey, and a super sharp racing team and car, what would there be to gain by sacrificing any of that for more external influence from a major car manufacturer?

Red Bull has never been stronger as a team than when it has been fully independent and able to react in an instant to whatever challenges are thrown at it.

The examples of major manufacturers when having their own teams - like Toyota, BMW and Honda – all point to more bureaucratic processes that only serve to hamper competitive ambitions, and a lack of the kind of agility that has made Red Bull such a force in F1.

That was a key point that Horner made in Zandvoort on Sunday night when asked whether or not the Porsche deal was dead in the water.

“We are an independent team,” he said. “That's always the way that we've operated in terms of being flexible and the ability to move quickly and efficiently. And I think that's part of the DNA of what Red Bull is.”

Christian Horner: “We are an independent team, That's always the way that we've operated in terms of being flexible and the ability to move quickly and efficiently. And I think that's part of the DNA of what Red Bull is.”

Christian Horner: “We are an independent team, That's always the way that we've operated in terms of being flexible and the ability to move quickly and efficiently. And I think that's part of the DNA of what Red Bull is.”

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Horner was also clear last weekend that second thoughts from him and Marko about a Porsche involvement were not related to them being scared of losing their jobs and being replaced by managers from the German road car company.

“There are always wild rumours in this paddock,” said Horner about those theories.

“I recently made a commitment to this team for the long term. And indeed, any discussions that we've had have been contingent upon the management structure being the same, which has always been fully accepted.

“So I think I don't really need to comment on wild speculation.”

While Red Bull does not appear interested in sacrificing ownership of its F1 team, it’s a different matter where it comes to its new powertrain division: and that could offer an opportunity for a joint ownership structure to rebadge Red Bull’s engines as Porsche.

Horner added: “The powertrain is obviously a different challenge. And of course, if there was a partner to potentially look at working with on the powertrains, that would make logical sense.

“Our position is that obviously, the team is the biggest marketing asset globally for Red Bull. And why would we compromise that strategically for the long term?

“For 2026, we're fully committed, we've recruited some of the best talent in Formula 1 within Red Bull Powertrains, we've created a factory within 55 weeks, with fully commissioned dynos. We've built our first prototype engine for 2026 and run that prior to the summer break. “

What may have also been factored in to Red Bull’s views on the Porsche project is the swift way that its powertrains division has come together. That has delivered confidence in its own ability to build a top-level engine for 2026, whether it has an engine partner or not.

Red Bull no longer considers it out of the question to handle the entire engine project itself. The fact that the first Red Bull engine ran on one of the new AVL test benches in Milton Keynes shortly before the summer break has boosted the belief it can push on alone.

While still without a battery, Horner stresses that Red Bull Powertrains is capable of designing and building a complete power unit in-house.

"The specialists we have cover the entire powertrain, including electrical and mechanical,” he declared.

“We're on a really exciting trajectory that isn't dependent on outside involvement or investment if there's strategically the right partner. And, of course, it's something that the group would be very interested in.”

Read Also:
Porsche F1 car render

Porsche F1 car render

Photo by: Camille Debastiani

But whether or not Porsche are open to such an idea is another question. It has been clear for months that the German car maker only wanted to come in to F1 as a partner of a team, not just as an engine supplier.

With such a team unison appearing on the rocks at Red Bull, options are hugely limited elsewhere: which has cast question marks over whether or not the Porsche project will now go ahead at all.

For Porsche, this is a bitter setback. The Zuffenhausen-based company is currently preparing its IPO. A future entry in to the booming billion-dollar Formula 1 business, which has never been as profitable for teams as it has been since the introduction of the budget cap (which will also apply to engines from 2026), would have been perfect. It now needs to think about what it does next.

For Red Bull, what Porsche does or does not do changes nothing in the short term. It looks almost certain to win this year’s world championship with Verstappen, it has Newey in place, a strong car for the new rules era and a Honda technical partnership until at the least the end of 2025 – and an extension not totally ruled out.

It also has the funding to keep developing its own engine and there are at least another three years for it to find a potential partner on that front if it wants to.

As Horner said: “One of our strengths is that Red Bull has always been a brand that thinks outside the box, a team that is never afraid to take on new challenges.

“First we got into F1 and now we're building an engine. The way we work is quite different, and it's part of our DNA to be able to make big things happen."

Additional reporting by Luke Smith

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