The reigning world champions were the second team to launch their new challenger, but keen observers were quick to notice it bore a striking resemblance to 2022’s title-winning RB18.
“I think the car that we’ve shown today obviously will be somewhat different when you see it in Bahrain,” Horner said.
“Today was really about launching the teams aspirations for the year ahead, the partners that we have and of course, the exciting announcement with a Ford partnership and to do it here in the US in this market is the first time obviously ever for Red Bull Racing.
“So yes, what you’ve seen today obviously isn’t a total reflection of what will hit the track in Bahrain in a couple of weeks’ time.”
The big news to come out of the event was the return of Ford to F1 in 2026 as Red Bull‘s engine supplier.
It will bring to an end the Milton Keynes-based team’s highly successful partnership with Honda, which has so far delivered two drivers’ titles as well as one constructors’ championship.
Horner paid tribute to the Japanese manufacturer and hopes they can toast to more good times before they part ways at the conclusion of the 2025 season.
“We’ve had an incredible partnership with Honda and when they initially announced their withdrawal from Formula 1 in 2020, it was with great sadness,” Horner added. “And that’s what prompted the creation of Red Bull powertrains to take control of our own future.
“As we set off on that journey, obviously, there was a change of plan with Honda thankfully to agree to continue to supply engines to the end of 2025, whilst in turn, we were building up our resource for 2026.
“We have a great working relationship, they’re an incredible company, and under the current regulations, we will be pushing with Honda all the way to the last race of the 2025 season.”
Verstappen: I haven’t seen the car
At the launch event, reigning world champion Max Verstappen admitted he also is yet to see the real RB19 that he hopes will guide him to a third successive world crown, not that he seemed particularly bothered.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen it [the car],” Verstappen said. “I’ve only spoken about the performance upgrades in terms of lap time and behaviour.
“I haven’t seen any pictures or renders because I’m not interested in these kinds of things. I only want a fast car. And it doesn’t matter how it looks like to me.”
The Dutchman secured the 2022 title at a canter, winning a record 15 races, but doesn’t expect to have it so easy when racing resumes and has tipped Mercedes to bounce back and mount a serious challenge.
“For sure they [Mercedes] will be a main our main rival, but also I think Ferrari will be strong,” he added. “How strong, it’s difficult to say.
“But Mercedes has shown, of course, over the last few years that they’ve always been really, really strong. And they have a good group of people as well.
“But I trust in my people in Milton Keynes that they can build a very strong car as well together with our engine as well. I hope that we again have a strong package against them.”