Zak Brown ‘visits Red Bull HQ’ and may strike unlikely Horner deal | F1 | Sport

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has fuelled speculation that the team could strike an unlikely partnership with Red Bull in the future after a visit to their factory. The American supremo dropped a hint that he could pursue an engine partnership from 2026 onwards with Red Bull Powertrains and Ford, despite his frosty relationship with team principal Christian Horner.

Reports suggested Brown had recently travelled to Red Bull‘s factory base in Milton Keynes for a tour of their facilities and to discuss an engine partnership.

At the British Grand Prix, where McLaren‘s Lando Norris finished third behind Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen and winner Lewis Hamilton, Brown confirmed at Silverstone that he had visited Red Bull‘s engine factory last year after meeting another high-ranking American in motorsport, Ford CEO Jim Farley, who has some input on Red Bull‘s 2026 engine.

“I have a great relationship with Jim Farley [Ford CEO],” Brown said, as quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “We met last year and then visited the factory. That was before we decided to extend our contract with Mercedes.”

It is also reported by the outlet that Brown has stayed in ‘regular contact’ over a potential engine deal, despite the fact McLaren have an engine agreement with Mercedes until 2030 after opting to extend their partnership in November 2023. They could choose to break the contract if the German manufacturer fail to demonstrate its capability for the new engine regulations in 2026.

That would appear to be unlikely at this stage, however, with Brown acutely aware of how relations have become particularly strained with Red Bull following the recent clash between Norris and Verstappen in Austria.

When asked about the possibility of him returning to the factory, the 52-year-old replied with a smile: “I don’t think I’d like to be seen there at the moment.”

Relations have been tense between Brown and Horner since the latter was investigated by his team for alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a female Red Bull employee.

Horner was cleared following in an independent investigation carried out by the team, but Brown made it clear such a situation would not be tolerated at McLaren and suggested Horner, 50, should step down from his role.

The public war of words have carried on from there and came to a head at the Red Bull Ring when Brown suggested Red Bull encourage Verstappen to be aggressive towards other drivers.

“Max and Lando were just duking it out as you’d expect them to do, and until someone tells Max, ‘hey, that’s against the regulations,’ he’s not going to know any different,” Brown said. “So I think there were missed opportunities for the stewards to make note.

“Also disappointed that such a great team like Red Bull, the leadership almost encourages it. Because you listen on the radio to what was said.

“We all have a responsibility on pit wall to tell our drivers the dos and don’ts of what’s going on in the race.”

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