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Formula 1 musical chairs steps into overdrive

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Red Bull has gone with Ford money. Where does that leave Porsche and Honda? And the rest? Michele Lupini attempts to figure out the growing 2026 Formula 1 riddle.

Picture the scene. We have twelve 2026 F1 chairs. The Red one is Ferrari; the Silver stool is Mercedes. Another chair is in Renault Blue and Pink but call it Alpine. Not much to ponder there. They all make their own engines anyway. There’s also one that will soon be dayglo orange. It’s called Sauber. And it’s taken too. By F1 newcomers Audi.

There’s apparently a fifth 2026 F1 chair. It’s called Andretti Cadillac is already sitting on it. Now, all of a sudden, another ’26 F1 chair is taken by Red Bull Ford, which includes AlphaTauri too. Hold that thought. So, six 2026 F1 musical chairs are left to play with.

McLaren, Haas, Williams are F1 teams there for the taking.

McLaren, Haas, and Williams seem there for the taking. We can’t be too sure about Alpha Tauri. Nor Aston Martin, for that matter. And who knows what this alleged twelfth chair will be. We do know that Honda and Porsche want to occupy two chairs at least.

Now, with them, Ford, Audi, and GM Cadillac leading the charge, how long will it take before Toyota, BMW, Hyundai, and who knows who else, maybe fight over these ever more precious F1 chairs? Musical, as they may be.

Another big question now revolves around Honda and Porsche. Both of them just jilted by high-class Formula 1 prostitute Red Bull. F1’s world champion manufacturer has been in bed with all three of them. But it opted for those huge Detroit bucks in the end.

Red Bull’s adulterous three-timing treachery

Ford Partners With Red Bull in Return to Formula One - The New York Times

Honda must be particularly miffed by Red Bull’s adulterous three-timing treachery. It grinned like the cat that got the cheese on stifling the Porsche plot. And now look! They buggered off with Ford! So, Honda’s all of a sudden homeless for F1 ‘26. Or is that chairless?

Porsche was public in its Red Bull dealings. Until it was jilted. Now it has gone to ground. And as far as we know, it and Honda must still find 2026 F1 homes. Along with who knows who else?

For now, let’s concentrate on what we know. Honda and Porsche. And McLaren, Williams, and Haas; Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin. Williams has only just been rocked by a management exodus. It won world titles with Honda years ago. And that still seems a sensible fit. Why not?

What about McLaren Porsche? And Williams Honda?

As does McLaren Porsche. Even if the orange team has been screaming overtures to Mercedes as evidenced by its new shared spare nut behind the wheel, Mick. McLaren won big with TAG badged Porsche engines. Another Match made in heaven? Perhaps.

Haas seems another team ripe for carmaker plucking. They say AphaTauri will keep tugging on Red Bull’s Ford skirt. But is there a guarantee? Don’t think so. Same goes for Aston Martin. Its F1 future is as shaky as the brand itself right now.

How likely are Ferrari, Honda (or is it Ford?) and Mercedes’ second and third teams to remain as they are prompting the inevitable question, who’s still waiting in the wings?

The carbon paper must be flying in Detroit

Among them, the carbon paper must be flying in Detroit and Indianapolis. Cadillac and Andretti are frantically scribbling out F1’s all-new team application forms in triplicate as we speak. Let’s hope they’re there in ’26. Along with that secret twelfth chair and its occupant.

The further the 2026 F1 mystery progresses; the more questions appear to need answers. Is that a good thing? Absolutely it is! At the current rate, there may just be too few chairs for incoming carmaker bums, come the new dispensation.

Despite the complication, that’s a very good thing. And a riddle we cannot wait to unravel.