Why Red Bull-Ford receive only partial 2026 Power Unit allowances

RacingNews365 previously announced that Ferrari was barred from attending a Power Unit Working Group 2026 meeting in December after failing to register for the new regulations. The Italian team had refused to enter in protest at what they felt were unfair provisions in the regulations, which arguably favored new PU suppliers like Audi and Red Bull Powertrains.

Ferrari argued that RBPT is not an incoming supplier as it has access to IP and battery manufacturing know-how. The Scuderia’s bluff was called when they were expelled from the assembly – so they registered but continued to protest, with John Elkann and Benedetto Vigna, president and CEO respectively, leading the charge. That such heavyweights are involved is significant and suggests that Vigna is more interested in the F1 team.

New entrants will enjoy increased spending under the $10M budget cap for 2023/4 – which will be reduced to $5M in 2025 – and will benefit from an additional $15M in capital expenditures during ramp-up. These advantages are not insignificant and hence the representations reported by Ferrari (by the Italian media) to the FIA. As part of the Sporting/Technical Regulations, PU suppliers are granted performance allowances depending on their status.

Appendix 5 of the PU2026 regulations empowers the FIA ​​to grant, at its discretion, what is known as “partial status of new PU manufacturer”, which in turn “results in a reduction of additional rights conferred on new PU manufacturers by technical, sporting and financial regulations. Three categories are weighted under the budget cap as follows: infrastructure (40%), ICE (50%) and ERS, i.e. the hybrid share (10%).

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Red Bull’s recent history with Honda

There’s no argument that Audi is a newcomer, but RBPT’s status is complex given its on-off relationship with Honda: when the Japanese announced its exit in late 2021, an agreement was reached to protect PU’s intellectual property rights to RBPT to produce the PUs in-house. Then this was changed so that PUs are supplied from Japan and IP rights were returned, although the hybrid battery packs are produced in Milton Keynes.

Where Audi receives 100% of the benefits from the budget cap, RBPT’s competitors argued that given its recent experience with ERS batteries, it should lose that 10% and reduce it to 90% of the incoming financial benefits. Red Bull is said to have accepted this status.

Although RBPT insists it had minimal access to ERS IP, Ferrari argued otherwise and RacingNews365 understands that RBPT’s status as a newcomer has been assessed for technical and sporting advantages, which weight the three elements as follows: 20% for infrastructure, 50% for ICE and 30% for ERS.

However, an all-or-nothing rule above 50% means that even on the ERS/Battery question, RBPT scores 70% and is therefore fully compliant. Whatever Ferrari’s objections, it appears that RBPT’s status of having 90% of the additional expense allowance is secure while qualifying for the full benefits under the technical/sporting regulations.

In short, despite its ERS experience, RBPT only loses 10% of the full budget caps for PU2026 newcomers and none of the sporting/technical advantages.

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Section 5.5 of Annex 5 states: “PU manufacturers shall have no right of appeal against any decision of the FIA ​​in relation to the provisions of this Annex 5.” This goes both ways, notwithstanding the historical “special case” of regulatory veto that Ferrari exercised under the current Concorde Agreement.

Ferrari did not respond to a request for comment.

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