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

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RacingNews365 previously revealed that Ferrari had been banned from attending a 2026 Power Unit Working Group meeting in December after not registering for the incoming regulations. The Italian team had refused to sign up in protest against what it saw as unfair provisions in the regulations which arguably favoured incoming PU suppliers such as Audi and Red Bull Powertrains. Ferrari argued RBPT is not an incoming supplier as it had access to the IP and battery manufacture expertise. The Scuderia’s bluff was called when they were banned from the meeting – so they signed up, 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 points to Vigna taking a closer interest in the F1 team. Newcomers enjoy increased spending under the budget cap amounting to $10m for 2023/4 – reducing to $5m in 2025 – and benefit from an additional $15m for capital expenditure during ramp-up. These benefits are not insignificant and hence Ferrari’s reported (by the Italian media) representations to the FIA. Under the Sporting / Technical Regulations PU suppliers are granted dynamometer allowances according to status. Appendix 5 of the PU2026 regulations empowers the FIA to, at its discretion, grant so-called “partial new PU manufacturer status”, which in turn “will give rise to a reduction of additional rights accorded to New PU Manufacturers by the technical, sporting and financial regulations.” Three categories are weighted under the budget cap as follows: infrastructure (40%), ICE (50%) and ERS, effectively the hybrid portion (10%). Red Bull’s recent history with Honda There are no arguments that Audi is a newcomer, but RBPT’s status is complex given its on-off relationship with Honda: When the Japanese gave notice of exit at end-2021 a deal was struck to transfer PU intellectual property rights to RBPT to produce the PUs in-house. Then this was amended whereby 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 budget cap benefits, RBPT’s competitors argued that given its recent ERS battery experience it should lose that 10%, reducing it to 90% of incoming financial benefits. Red Bull is said to have accepted this status. However, although RBPT insists it had only minimal access to ERS IP, Ferrari argued otherwise and RacingNews365 understands that RBPT’s status as a newcomer was under review for technical and sporting benefits which weight the three elements as follows: 20% for infrastructure, 50% for ICE, and 30% for ERS. However, an ‘all or nothing’ regulatory provision over a 50% score means that even with the ERS/battery issue RBPT scores 70% and thus is in full compliance with the regulations. Whatever objections Ferrari may have raised, it seems RBPT’s status of having 90% of the additional spend allowance is secure while qualifying for full benefits under the technical/sporting provisions. In short, despite its ERS experience RBPT forfeits only 10% of the full PU2026 newcomer budget cap allowances and none of the sporting/technical benefits. Appendix 5 Clause 5.5 states: “PU Manufacturers shall have no right of appeal against any decision by the FIA in relation to the provisions of this Appendix 5.” This cuts both ways regardless of the historic ‘special case’ regulatory veto Ferrari hold under the current Concorde Agreement. Ferrari did not respond to a request for comment.

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