Mercedes and Ferrari more or less opted out of providing engines to Red Bull as they ponder multiple options including Renault, while Honda speak on exiting F1 but re-signing IndyCar.
From the moment the news of Honda’s F1 departure was announced, its significance was not overlooked. The announcement puts the future of Red Bull into question, also raising concerns of whether or not it is indicative of a problem with F1 that needs solving.
Therefore, the announcement garnered substantial attention from those in and around the sport. The news, also affecting other teams who may wind up supplying Red Bull engines, whether that’s forced by a clause in the rules that mandates the least-active engine supplier provide services to a team without an engine partner, or via an organic contractual agreement, was talked about extensively by other team principals.
Here’s the bulk of what has thus far been said:
Mercedes – On the topic of giving engines to Red Bull:
Toto Wolff: “No. Because… for various reasons… but the main being that we are supplying four teams including us. We are almost in a state that we can’t make power units for all of us so there is no capacity. But I have no doubt that Helmut will have a Plan B, as he said, and probably doesn’t need to rely on any of the current power unit supplier.”
Ferrari – On the topic of supplying Red Bull power units:
Mattia Binotto: “Obviously we were not considering it. Something that we need to start considering now. I think we have not decided, as far as I think it will be down to Red Bull eventually to look at us and ask for a supply. They are a great team, no doubt. I think that supplying them is as well a lot of energy, somehow, which is required but something which we need to consider and something on which we have no position yet. On which we need certainly to take our time to think at and have a decision. I think timing-wise, it’s very little time – because we need to organise ourselves, 2022 is just here behind, which is tomorrow, somehow. So, as we said, it was somehow sudden news from Honda and I think that now we need to consider something that was even not considered a few days ago.”
Renault – On possible engine contract talks with Red Bull:
Cyril Abiteboul: “I can confirm I have not been contacted by Red Bull in relation to engine supply. More seriously, I don’t think it’s a question of whether we are open or not open. To the question before. We know the regulation. When you are a participant to the sport you have to accept the rules. It’s part of the sporting regulation. So, we know what that is. We also know the details, including in terms of timing and as anyone can check in the sporting regulations, there is still quite a bit of time before we get there. As Toto has said, I can’t imagine that they don’t have a Plan A or Plan B and I think we are very far in the pecking order of the alphabet before they call us again. Yeah.”
Expectedly, two of the three manufacturers, more or less shunned the idea of providing engines to Red Bull and or AlphaTauri, while Renault remains in the thick of things, whether by its own choice or via regulations.
Here’s what Red Bull, AlpahTauri and Honda thought of it:
Honda – On the decision, and its implications:
Masashi Yamamoto: “Naturally it was a difficult decision for us to have to make. We had to make the decision to work on future carbon neutral projects. Given the excellent partnership we have with both SAT and RBR, as our CEO said in his presentation what we are going to be doing going forward is implementing our new structure PU and in doing so hoping we can further strengthen the relationship we have with both teams and get as many wins as we can. For those of us on the ground, given the fantastic relationship we have with both teams, going forward we are going to be making the absolute most of each race as it come, as I say, to get as many wins as we can.”
On re-signing in IndyCar just after the F1 exit was announced:
Yamamoto: “Naturally we respect the regulations that the FIA and F1 are looking to implement going forward. I think when we look at the overall target of carbon neutrality, we’re both moving in the same direction. However, given that Honda has customers all over the world for its automobile products, its motorbikes and also its general use products, there was the need for us to move our top engineers at an earlier stage to working on future carbon-neutral products. Going to your question about IndyCar: IndyCar, from our point of view, our work on IndyCar is run by HPD which is an independent part of Honda within in America. In this case, a lot of our R&D stuff based in Japan, which meant that for our future work we had to allocate engineers to, otherwise they’d be working in Japan.”
Red Bull – On Red Bull’s options with regards to engine partners:
Christian Horner: “Well, there are no new manufacturers lining up to come into F1. I think Toto, in his early conferences, obviously made it clear that Mercedes are not keen to supply an engine so that limits your choice to therefore two current suppliers in the sport. And as I say, we need to take the time to do our due diligence, we want to compete and we want to win World Championships; that’s the reason that Red Bull is in the sport, that’s what it’s here to do and we can only do that with a competitive power unit and that’s where we need to take our time to, as I say, do the necessary investigation and due diligence.
On Renault supplying engines:
Horner: “Obviously Renault have to be considered as a potential supplier in the future so I think Renault is a different organisation than the last time they supplied us. They have a new chairman who seems passionate about Formula 1 which is good to see. F1 needs that drive from the top of an organisation, that enthusiasm, otherwise it’s impossible to achieve success in this sport. As I said earlier, we have to consider all options.”
On Red Bull potentially assuming the Honda program:
Horner: “I think, as I say, we have to look at all of the options and we have to take the time in order to do that. Red Bull need a competitive engine. Its aspirations are not just that of a customer team. When you look at the costs involved in the engine supply, they are enormous and that’s why F1 has failed in its attempt to attract new engine suppliers, new manufacturers into the sport, so it brings into real focus those costs, those cost-drivers through the regulations etc and I think Honda’s withdrawal is a real shame for Formula 1 but it’s also a wake-up call and I think that we really need to consider is 2026 too far away for the introduction of a new engine. What will that technology be?
“What should it be? They are questions that are going to need to be answered quickly in order to give a road-map to what the future of the sport is. You’ve got to consider all possibilities. You’ve got to be open to all possibilities. We see in this sport that sometimes the unexplainable can happen and it’s our duty to look at what is the most competitive way forward in 2022. We have the time. Honda have afforded us that time.
“If they’d have made this decision in the spring of next year or in the autumn of next year, it would have been a far worse scenario for us, so we’re only just halfway through the relationship with Honda and we’ve achieved a lot in the time that we’ve been together, we aim to achieve a lot more in the remaining time that we have together, and obviously there are the bigger questions that need to be answered between now and the end of the year.”
On whether or not Alpha Tauri and Red Bull might diverge with regards to engine suppliers:
Horner: “I think it’s very much a two for one scenario, so due to synergy project, due to integration of the drive train, then it’s inconceivable to think that the two teams could operate on different power units and that introduces all kinds of complexities, particularly with IP etc from the different suppliers, so it would be way from ideal to put teams on different power unit solutions.”
Honda decision shock, wants to keep same engine as Red Bull:
Franz Tost: “First of all the decision from Honda of course is a big shock for us. As you said we have a very long relationship with them and very successful as well. But we have to take it like it is and we thank them for the real good job they have done with us and the rest then we will see. We made good steps forward and now Red Bull will decide which power unit we will use from 2021 onwards and I hope we can continue with all the synergy processes and also have success in the future.
“And no, we don’t want to use a different power unit as Red Bull Racing is using because we want to continue with the synergy process. I don’t want that AlphaTauri start once more designing our own gearbox, the complete rear suspension, all this kind of stuff. We have a very close co-operation with Red Bull Technology and we want to continue with them and therefore we want to have the same engine.”
Here’s F1 Nation episode on Red Bull, Honda
Here’s latest from Christian Horner on Honda situation
Here’s Helmut Marko on Honda’s decision and Alexander Albon
Here’s Honda explaining their step to leave F1