‘It has to work’: Helmut Marko admits no 2026 backup plan in place

Red Bull will produce their own power units from 2026 onwards, with technical assistance from Ford.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has insisted that the Austrians don’t have a ‘Plan B’ for the new power unit regulations in 2026, should their engine be uncompetitive.

In a further push for independence from manufacturers, Red Bull will be powering their own cars and AlphaTauri’s from 2026 onwards, when the new power unit regulations are introduced.

Japanese manufacturer Honda will therefore stop working with Red Bull at the end of the 2025 season, with them moving to Aston Martin, who’ll become a works team.

Ditching Honda is a risky move, given that they’ve produced the strongest engine for the last few seasons.

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Whilst Honda’s engine for the 2026 regulations might not be the strongest, it still presents less risks than designing and producing their own.

Red Bull built their own power unit facility in Milton Keynes where work is already underway on their 2026 engines, which have reportedly faced numerous setbacks already.

The team’s engines will be branded as RBPT in 2026, with Marko stressing that their power units simply must “work”.

Red Bull don’t have an alternative option on the table if their engines either aren’t ready in time or if they’re extremely uncompetitive, adding to the pressure on the side’s powertrain department.

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Until then, Marko has stressed that Red Bull expect the “best possible performance potential from Honda”, before their partnership concludes.

“No, it has to work,” Marko told OE24, when asked if remaining with Honda is a back-up plan for 2026.

“From 2026, we will be racing with our own engine. Until then, we want the best possible performance potential from Honda, which has worked well so far.”

Despite rumours of setbacks, Marko has insisted that Red Bull’s power unit preparations are “going according to plan”.

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“Even though we are still a long way from competitive use, everything is going according to plan and the performance curve is right,” Marko said.

The truth of whether Red Bull have bitten more than they can chew will really not be discovered until the opening rounds of the 2026 season, by at which point Max Verstappen could be a five-time World Champion.

Most expect Red Bull’s dominance to continue until the new power unit regulations, with 2026 being viewed as Mercedes’ and Ferrari’s best bet at surpassing the Austrians.