AlphaTauri may have only rebranded in 2020, but they were first involved in F1 back in 1985, under the name of Minardi. It was in 2006 when Red Bull bought Minardi, using them as their rookie team, Toro Rosso. This link may leave many wondering what engines AlphaTauri are currently using in F1.
AlphaTauri use Red Bull Powertrains engines in F1, which are currently designed and manufactured by Honda. When Honda announced that they were leaving F1 in 2021, Red Bull, who own AlphaTauri, began construction on their own engine manufacturing factory based at their campus in Milton Keynes.
AlphaTauri’s engines are set to change in 2026 when Formula 1’s engine regulations change again. There is currently no confirmed information as to whether they will collaborate with another brand or make the engine themselves. In this article we will discuss AlphaTauri’s engines in further detail.
Who Makes AlphaTauri F1 Engines?
AlphaTauri’s F1 engines are made by Red Bull Powertrains, after they took over the reins from Honda following the announcement of their exit from the sport in 2021. Although the engines are no longer branded with the Honda logo, Red Bull Powertrains still work alongside Honda in the production of the engines, known as ‘power units’ in Formula One.
A development freeze brought in by the FIA for the 2022-2025 seasons means that Red Bull Powertrains can’t develop the original Honda power units any further, meaning that they will remain Honda’s intellectual property until the end of the 2025 season. From 2026 onwards, the engines will be Red Bull Powertrains’ responsibility, once the new engine regulations are brought in.
This means that while the branding suggests that it is Red Bull Powertrains who make AlphaTauri’s power units, it is Honda who are responsible for the design and manufacturing process.
Have AlphaTauri Always Used Honda Engines?
AlphaTauri have always used Honda engines to power their cars, since they were rebranded for the start of the 2020 season. However, they relied on a variety of different companies to manufacture their engines during their previous stints in F1 as both Toro Rosso and Minardi.
KEY FACT: AlphaTauri, in all its forms, have used 9 different engine manufacturers to power their cars
When Red Bull took over Minardi in 2006 and rebranded them as Toro Rosso, they kept Minardi’s previous supplier Cosworth’s V10 engine for a single season before switching to V8 Ferrari engines for the next seven seasons. They then made the move to Renault engines in 2014, the supplier of their works Red Bull Racing team since 2007.
The reason Toro Rosso used Ferrari engines when the Red Bull team were using Renault engines was because of a contract between the Red Bull team and Ferrari in 2006, with the works team deciding to break the contract due to performance issues. So, instead of having a potential lawsuit on their hands, they handed the contract over to Toro Rosso, hence their first spell as Ferrari engine customers.
As for Minardi, they used mostly Ford engines throughout their time in Formula 1, having started in 1985 using both Ford and Motori Moderni engines. When their relationship with Ford was coming to an end at the start of the new millennium, they made the switch to Cosworth engines, who had been closely tied to Ford over the many years of their participation in the sport.
AlphaTauri F1 Team Engines Over The Years
|1985||Ford, Motori Moderni||0|
|2017||Renault (with a Toro Rosso badge)||0|
|2022||Honda (with a Red Bull Powertrains badge)||0|
The Minardi Days
There has been a total of 9 manufacturers that Minardi, Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri have been customers to since 1985. Minardi’s very first engine in 1985 was meant to be made by Motori Moderni, but it wasn’t ready for the start of the season, so the team had to use a Ford Cosworth DFV engine for their first two races.
Minardi flirted with Italian engines in the early 90s, using both Ferrari and Lamborghini engines for one year respectively. After this brief period, they returned to using Ford engines, before experiencing severe financial troubles, which they were no stranger to during their time in F1. They even used older Ford engines and rebranded them in 2000 to please a potential investor.
After using unreliable Cosworth engines from 2003-2005, Minardi were finally put out of their financial misery by Red Bull, who purchased the team to run alongside their main Red Bull Racing team, rebranding Minardi as Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR). Toro Rosso would use the Cosworth engines for a year, before taking on a customer contract with Ferrari that their sister team had broken.
Toro Rosso, now financially strong, frequently changed their engine suppliers throughout the V6 hybrid era, first leaving Ferrari for Renault and then going back to Ferrari, and then finally to Honda in 2018 alongside the Red Bull senior team. They have retained their custom with Honda even through their rebrand into AlphaTauri and will remain working with them until 2026.
KEY POINTS• AlphaTauri have existed in 3 forms during their time in F1
• They have used 9 different engine manufacturers since 1985
• The team took one win with a Ferrari engine in 2008 (as STR), and one win with a Honda engine in 2020
What Engines Will AlphaTauri Use In 2026?
AlphaTauri will likely use Red Bull Powertrains engines in 2026, unless a new manufacturer confirms their entry into the sport. It’s unlikely the team will make their own engines, as they are still the sister team to Red Bull Racing, and are under the control of Red Bull.
New engine regulations are set to come into place in 2026 when the engine development freeze comes to an end. This will fully signal the end of Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s relationship with Honda, meaning the door will open for a new collaborator. Porsche were the nailed-on favorites to take the role but confirmed in early September 2022 that talks between the two companies had broken down.
The original plan that Porsche had was to take a 50% share in the Red Bull Racing team, while also supplying engines for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri. This plan didn’t go down well with Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who believed the deal would compromise Red Bull’s independence, especially surrounding their Red Bull Powertrains project.
A potential deal with Audi is also looking unlikely, as they are keen on working with a new-look Sauber F1 team. The search will remain ongoing for the Red Bull brand, which will leave AlphaTauri’s situation also unknown. However, with the infrastructure surrounding Red Bull Powertrains, it remains just as likely that they will use these engines in the end.
Early Preparations Underway
Even though the power train regulation changes are still several years away, Red Bull Powertrains have already started their preparations at their factory in Milton Keynes. Red Bull principal Christian Horner expects the first prototypes of the new power units to be running this year.
The new engines will keep the V6 combustion engine architecture but will feature 100% sustainable fuels for the very first time in Formula 1. They will also feature increased electrical power as the sport plans to lower its emissions for the future.
AlphaTauri uses Honda engines in F1, under the Red Bull Powertrains badge. The team has only used Honda engines in their cars since being rebranded in 2020. However, there have been 2 other iterations of the team in Toro Rosso and Minardi, who both used a multitude of engines, from Ford to Ferrari.