Red Bull dealing with curious engine issue as ‘information war’ rages on

Koji Watanabe, president of Honda Racing, has revealed that Red Bull and Honda are in the midst of an ‘information war’ regarding the state of their power units, with the Japanese manufacturer still producing engines for the reigning constructor champions until the 2026 regulation changes.

When the 2026 technical regulations come into play, Red Bull will debut their new power units which are made in-house under the Red Bull Powertrains operation. The team have been supplied by Honda since 2019, but in 2021 the Japanese engine manufacturer announced their exit from F1.

Honda’s departure forced Red Bull to commence its own power unit operation, but this exit proved to be short-lived. During the summer of 2023, it was announced that they would return to the sport in 2026, producing engines exclusively for Aston Martin.  

Speaking to De Telegraaf about the state of the relationship, Watanabe said: “Red Bull doesn’t tell us anything about their engine, and we don’t say anything to them about our development.

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“So there is already a kind of information war going on at the moment. At Red Bull, they do have some knowledge about our current engine but, ultimately, we are responsible for the development and the whole process. Most of the knowledge is with us.

“Until 2025, I hope Red Bull wins everything. And from 2026, we will hopefully be their biggest competitor. Building a completely new engine is a huge challenge, but our goal is also to win a championship in the next era.”

The transition into the Red Bull Powertrains operation is a step into the unknown for the Milton Keynes-based team, who have relied on external engine suppliers throughout their lengthy stay in F1 thus far.

However, according to Watanabe’s words, the team shouldn’t have anything to worry about until 2026. He explained: “In terms of power and performance, we may not improve anything, but in other areas, we can make strides even with this engine.

“At Ferrari, for example, they have developed the engine considerably and Mercedes’ ERS system is also very strong. We will also improve our engine for next year in terms of its longevity. So there is definitely something in the pipeline.”

The strong performance of the Honda engines will be music to the ears of Aston Martin though with the Silverstone-based outfit looking for more independence from current providers Mercedes as they look to evolve into a title-winning organisation.