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What Engines Do Red Bull Use In F1?

Red Bull is one of the most recent success stories in Formula 1. Despite only joining the grid in 2005, the team has won five drivers’ titles and four constructors’ championships. You might be wondering what engines Red Bull use and whether that contributes to their success.

Red Bull currently use Red Bull Powertrains engines in F1, although these engines are technically Honda engines under the RBPT branding. The team recruited some of the Honda engineers who built their 2021 title winning engines, and they will use these until the end of 2025. 

Despite having some technical gremlins during testing and the opening rounds of the 2022 season, the newest engine used by Red Bull has proven to be one of the fastest on the grid. Below, we take a closer look at the engines Red Bull have used over the years. 

Does Red Bull Still Use Honda Engines?

Red Bull does still use Honda engines in F1, although it is under the Red Bull Powertrains branding. The team struck a deal to continue using Honda’s engines with their assistance until the end of 2025, even though the Japanese brand pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2021 season.

Red Bull have enjoyed a successful partnership with Honda, and it even culminated in a World Drivers’ Championship for Max Verstappen. Despite not winning the constructors’ championship, Red Bull’s partnership with the Japanese engine manufacturer has been much more successful than Honda was with McLaren in recent years.

Honda’s partnership with Red Bull owned teams first started with Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2018 after the Japanese engine manufacturer parted ways with McLaren. It was only in 2019 when Honda started powering Red Bull Racing in addition to their sister team. This was the first time that Honda would power two different Formula 1 teams since 2008.

During the 2020 season Honda announced that they would be leaving Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season. The Japanese manufacturer decided to pull out of the sport once again. Their reason for leaving Formula 1 was so that they could focus their resources on carbon neutral technologies.

Where To Spend Resources

Formula 1 requires manufacturers to invest a lot of money. A road car manufacturer like Honda often has to choose between competing in Formula 1 and focusing their resources on developing their own production cars. Even building one Formula 1 engine can cost $10 million or more.

With the automotive industry moving quickly into hybrid power, electric power, and carbon neutrality, many manufacturers need to make sure that they have enough resources to invest in their own business to prevent falling behind their competitors.

What Does RBPT Stand For?

RBPT stands for Red Bull Powertrains, which is the name given to the engine division at Red Bull Racing. The division was formed as a result of Honda pulling out of F1 at the end of 2021, and it will supply engines for Red Bull in 2026.

Red Bull Racing have always been a customer team, which means that they buy engines from other manufacturers to use in their own cars. In the past they have used Renault and even Ferrari engines in their cars. While the engines the Red Bull and AlphaTauri use are branded as Red Bull Powertrains engines, they’re still assembled by Honda.

Where Are Red Bull’s Engines Made?

Red Bull’s engines are made at the Honda factory in Japan. They are still assembled by Honda engineers, and they still use Honda’s intellectual property and will continue to do so until 2026, when Red Bull will build its own engines at their RBPT factory in Milton Keynes, in England.

KEY POINTS

• Red Bull Racing still use Honda engines and will do so until 2026

• These engines are currently branded as Red Bull Powertrains engines

• From 2026, Red Bull’s engines will be made by RBPT

How Powerful Is Red Bull’s F1 Engine?

Red Bull’s F1 engine likely outputs around 1000 horsepower. This is on par with the other engines made by Ferrari, Alpine (Renault) and Mercedes. Red Bull currently appears to have the second most powerful engine on the grid behind Ferrari.

How Does Red Bull’s Engine Compare To Other Manufacturers? 

Ferrari

It’s clear that Ferrari currently has the best engine on the grid. The Ferrari engine has a clear advantage over the other power units, which is a surprise considering how far behind they were in 2020 and 2021 leading up to the engine freeze. However, the Ferrari engines have struggled with reliability. 

Red Bull’s engine is a close second in terms of performance. Despite their shaky start to the 2022 season, the engine has proved powerful and reliable, and when combined with the RB18’s design, the Red Bull often has the highest top speed on the grid, allowing it to dominate at power circuits like Spa and Monza.

Renault (Alpine)

Renault takes third place in the engine power rankings. Alpine is the only team that currently runs the Renault engines, and they have shown some impressive straight line speed throughout the 2022 season, although they too have suffered from reliability issues.

Mercedes

Surprisingly, Mercedes have dropped from having the best engine to having arguably the worst engine. Despite the factory team having some decent performances later on in the season, all Mercedes customer teams struggled in 2022. Aston Martin, Williams, and McLaren have all delivered below average performances throughout 2022.

What Engines Have Red Bull Used In The Past?

Cosworth

Red Bull Racing started in Formula 1 in 2005 when the Jaguar Racing team was bought over by Dietrich Mateschitz. Red Bull’s first engine supplier was Cosworth, and this was simply because Jaguar was using the British engines in their cars. Keeping the same engines would keep the team’s transition simple.

Ferrari

In 2006, Red Bull Racing switched over to the Ferrari engines at the same time as the V8 engine rules came in. However, the RB2 struggled with cooling problems due to its design causing the car to struggle to cool overheating components. The team struggled to a seventh place finish in the constructors’ championship.

The Ferrari partnership did not last long as Red Bull switched over to Renault engines from the 2007 season. The team was technically obligated to continue using the Ferrari engines because of the contract they signed, but these were passed on to their sister Toro Rosso team instead.

Renault 

The Renault engines proved to work much more smoothly with Adrian Newey’s design of the Red Bull cars. Red Bull scored a podium at the chaotic 2007 European Grand Prix and the team solidified themselves as upper midfield contenders who could occasionally fight for podium positions. Red Bull finished fifth in 2007 the constructors’ standings.

Red Bull Racing stuck with Renault engines as they saw a notable difference in their performance with the French engines suiting their car’s design. In 2008, they struggled to beat their sister Toro Rosso team because of Sebastian Vettel’s victory at the rain-soaked Italian Grand Prix – the first for a Red Bull-owned team.

The Red Bull “B-team” Toro Rosso, with their Ferrari engines, finished the season in sixth place with 39 points in total. Red Bull Racing on the other hand finished in seventh place with their Renault engines, scoring a total of 29 points. But the massive 2009 aerodynamic rule changes would prove to shake up the grid dramatically.

The Beginnings Of Success

In 2009, Red Bull Racing promoted Vettel to drive alongside Mark Webber, and this became their first true fight for the championship. As the usual front runners Ferrari and McLaren were thrown off by taking on the KERS challenge, Red Bull Racing and Brawn GP decided against using the new system as it was complex and unreliable at first.

The team secured their first pole position with Vettel at the Chinese Grand Prix, and also their first victory. Red Bull ended their 2009 season with 153.5 points to claim second place in the constructors’ championship. Sebastian Vettel finished just 11 points behind Jenson Button, and Mark Webber finished fourth in the championship with 69.5 points.

The RB5 took six wins out of 17 races, with four 1-2 finishes and a total of 14 podiums. For a team that was running in the midfield, their first season as title competitors was incredibly impressive as they very nearly won both championships.

First World Championship

Following their strong run of form, Red Bull Racing decided to continue their partnership with Renault for the 2010 season, which ended up being one of the most competitive and closely fought championships in the history of the sport. 

The second half of the season is where the RB6 would really shine. Going into the final race of the season, Vettel was in third place in the championship standings, trailing Fernando Alonso by 15 points. By winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Vettel leaped past the Spaniard in the standings to win the title.

By the end of the season, the RB6 had racked up a total of nine wins out of 19 races, along with 19 podiums and another four 1-2 finishes. Red Bull’s driver pairing was so strong that they won the constructors’ championship in Brazil, the second to last race of the season.

Blown Diffusers

The 2011 season ushered in an era of Red Bull domination that saw the team and its drivers breaking Formula 1 records. Their speed came down to some clever Adrian Newey design through the blown diffuser, and a unique collaboration with Renault. 

The blown diffuser worked well for Red Bull despite other teams trying to copy the concept. However, the difference was that Renault fine-tuned their engines to make the blown diffuser much more powerful in combination with Red Bull’s design right from the start, which is why other teams simply could not catch up with them in this department.

Red Bull finished the season on 650 points, 153 points ahead of their closest rivals McLaren. Vettel won his second World Championship, with 11 wins, finishing on the podium in 17 out of the 19 races held in 2011. Webber took 10 podiums and one victory. 

The team suffered just two retirements throughout the entire season: Webber in Italy, and Vettel in Abu Dhabi (the only time the car finished outside of the top five). Neither of these resulted from problems with the engine, and the reliability of the Renault power unit continued into the next two seasons.

Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel won the 2012 and 2013 championships with the team achieving their 50th pole position and 40th victory at the 2013 Italian Grand Prix. This year saw Sebastian Vettel win a record breaking 9 races in a row at the end of the season.

The Hybrid Era

In 2014, Red Bull suffered a major downfall as there was an overhaul of the engine regulations. The hybrid era changed the game and suddenly Mercedes were the team to beat. Red Bull’s Renault engines suffered as the RB10 had a mediocre season. Daniel Ricciardo won three races and Vettel, now the youngest four time World Champion, could only manage four podiums.

Team principal Christian Horner criticized the engine after the Austrian Grand Prix, where Vettel retired, and Ricciardo finished in eighth place. Horner described the progress of Renault’s engine as “unacceptable” and was not impressed with the team’s performance against the Mercedes engines.

In early 2015 the Red Bull team made some progress as they were once again fighting for podiums. Soon enough though, the Renault engine suffered from reliability, power, and drivability issues. In 2015 the Red Bull team experienced their first winless seasons since 2008, and it was clear that a change was necessary.

TAG-Heuer Renault

Red Bull could not agree a deal with another engine manufacturer for the 2016 season, so the decision was made to use the Renault engines but brand them as TAG-Heuer due to the breakdown in their relationship with Renault.

Max Verstappen replaced Daniil Kvyat at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, and the team won a race right off the bat. However, they were still nowhere near the Mercedes powered cars that were streaking ahead of the competition. Under the TAG-Heuer badge, Red Bull were fighting for podiums behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

Red Bull finished second in the constructors’ championship in 2016, with Daniel Ricciardo taking third place in the drivers’ championship and Max Verstappen taking sixth place with half of his season spent driving for Toro Rosso, and the other half driving for Red Bull Racing.

The 2017 season saw an unchanged engine partnership, but the car was plagued with reliability issues, and it was never truly capable of fighting for the championship despite winning three races during the season. The team finished third in the constructors’ championship, with Ricciardo and Verstappen finishing fifth and sixth in the drivers’ championship respectively.

Moving Forward

In 2018, Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso made the switch to Honda engines. Red Bull, still running their TAG-Heuer engines, suffered a double retirement at the opening race of the season in Bahrain, which immediately put the team on the back foot.

It was looking better at the next race as Ricciardo took victory at the Chinese Grand Prix, and the team showed dominance at the Monaco Grand Prix thanks to their high downforce set up. However, the season took a turn for the worse later on as Renault’s lack of hybrid expertise and experience caused the team to suffer once again.

In total, Ricciardo suffered seven retirements, and a string of mechanical failures toward the end of the season caused frustration for both him and his team. Max Verstappen had some mechanical issues as well, but still managed to score some podiums and even two wins.

By the time the 2018 calendar reached the French Grand Prix, the team was impressed by the progress of the Honda engines in the Toro Rosso team. Red Bull decided that they would be making the switch to Honda power for the 2019 season.

Honda Power

In 2019 Red Bull Racing made the switch to Honda power with a two-year deal. This saw their 12 year partnership with Renault coming to an end. While the Honda partnership got off to a slow start initially, the Japanese manufacturer was making excellent progress with its power unit.

But in October 2020 Honda announced that it would be ending its partnership with Red Bull by the end of the 2021 season. The 2021 season saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen win the title fight against Lewis Hamilton to claim their first drivers’ championship since Vettel’s in 2013. 

Red Bull Powertrains

With an engine freeze in place, Red Bull were able to secure a deal with Honda to continue using their knowledge and expertise in their newly formed RBPT engine department until 2026. From then, RBPT will make their own engines without the support of Honda. 

KEY POINTS

• Red Bull have partnered with Renault and Honda during their time in F1
 
• They achieved 4 WDCs and WCCs in a row from 2010-2013 with Renault

• They won the 2021 World Drivers’ Championship with Honda power

What Engine Will Red Bull Use In 2026? 

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Red Bull’s engine partner when the new engine regulations come into play in 2026. Audi has already confirmed their entry into the sport as an engine manufacturer, but the German automotive giant has not yet confirmed which team they would be partnering up with.

Rumors were also swirling around the paddock that Red Bull would be partnering up with Porsche as their engine supplier in 2026, but Porsche released a statement in September 2022 saying they would not be entering F1 as a partner with Red Bull. 

Other Options

With the Red Bull Powertrains division being set up and engines expected to run soon, it’s likely that the Austrian team will simply build their own engines when the new regulations come into play in 2026. RBPT is Red Bull’s biggest investment since buying the Jaguar F1 team in 2005, and so the team will likely want to put that investment to good use!

Final Thoughts

The Red Bull F1 team uses Honda engines, under the branding of Red Bull Powertrains. Honda officially pulled out of the sport at the end of 2021, but the Red Bull team is using their engines until 2026. From then on, the team will use Red Bull-made RBPT engines, as will AlphaTauri.