Red Bull called on Formula 1 to take a “clean sheet” approach to its next generation of engines ahead of a crucial meeting between manufacturers on Saturday.
F1 announced in February that it would go ahead with plans for a new powertrain formula from 2025 after it had meanwhile agreed to a development freeze on existing V6 hybrids.
A meeting will take place on Saturday afternoon in Austria that will shape the direction of new power units, including existing power unit manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, as well as interested parties such as Audi and Porsche.
Red Bull will also be present ahead of its evolution into a powertrain manufacturer in 2022, when it succeeds its outgoing partner Honda.
The meeting is expected to focus on the use of sustainable fuels – widely accepted as a crucial development for the future of F1 – as well as the balance between hybrid power and combustion in the next generation of powertrains.
Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner felt the series had a chance to “do something really good for the sport” with its new powertrain regulations, and shouldn’t consider postponing existing powertrains due to their cost and complexity.
He also indicated that he wanted to postpone the introduction of the new power units to 2026, a year later than currently planned.
“This engine is going to be with us for the next 10 years when it is introduced,” said Horner.
“I prefer to take the time to come up with something exciting, different and relevant that meets the criteria of cost, performance and encourages close racing.
“Of course, we shouldn’t neglect the sound and the emotion either. For me, these are the criteria to focus on.
“It would be a real shame to take what is currently a very expensive engine and try to make it cheap. You can’t travel first class and pay for an economy class ticket.
“I hope there is an opportunity – especially if it was for 26 – to offer a sustainable engine, respectful of the environment, which uses biofuel, it is a little more a blank sheet, maybe be with elements of standardization where costs can clearly be controlled, rather than just postponing what we currently have.
The presence of Audi and Porsche at the meeting comes against a backdrop of renewed interest from the VW Group in a possible F1 engine project, with an emphasis on a sustainable and profitable engine.
Horner believed that Red Bull would be aligned with the same interests as any new manufacturer looking to join F1, although not an OEM needing some degree of relevance on the road.
“I would say any new builder that came in would obviously be keen to have a clean sheet, I would have thought,” said Horner.
“You can understand that the existing manufacturers have invested in these engines and want to integrate IP into the new engine.
“But of course this current engine is extremely expensive, and the way you cut costs, at the moment, in all the discussions I’ve been in, that hasn’t been achieved.
“So I think it’s not as easy as putting a cost cap in place, because of course an engine is a lot harder to control when combustion is applied to a lot of other aspects, especially if you’re an engine. OEM team or an engine manufacturer in Formula 1.
Horner felt the clean sheet should include a reduction in dyno and assembly time to “encourage creativity,” as well as a “safety net” so manufacturers can catch up if they get it wrong.
“We have to find something that is relevant and fair for the sport,” said Horner.
“Of course, it’s not just about the engine, you’re going to have to fit into a low-drag car to achieve that kind of efficiency. So this also has a huge impact on the chassis side.
“Therefore, a blank sheet for 2026, I think for Formula 1, for me, would be the right way to go.”
But he felt the final decision had to be up to the F1 regulator, the FIA and the commercial rights holder to make an appeal that was best for the series.
“We should leave that to the regulators and the commercial rights holder, to find something they feel is appropriate for the sport,” Horner said.
“They should pay the specialists, some independent specialists, to do this study and then come up with the rules.
“If the teams like it, then they will come in, and if they don’t, they won’t, by 2026, in time for the new Concorde deal.”