Red Bull’s Christian Horner discusses the team’s new engine arrangement, denying that they intend to attach a sponsor to their power units.
Red Bull recently agreed a deal to use Honda’s power units from 2022 to 2025, continuing to use the Japanese manufacturer’s intellectual property beyond their involvement in F1, which ceases in 2021.
Over these three years, Horner says, the team will assemble ‘the right group of people’ to head an engine department in the future. In order to ensure that the team can remain competitive while using stale engines, all teams have committed to an engine development freeze for this three year timespan.
“We will inherit the vast majority of HRD [Honda Racing Development] UK, which is the operational side of Honda based in Milton Keynes,” Horner began when discussing the team’s power unit arrangement with media including F1, Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, BBC and more.
“That gives us a standing start that already all the people that we already know and interface with we’ll look to take under the new company. We are in the process of setting out some of the other roles that will be filled over the next coming weeks and months.
“But I think the agreement that we’ve achieved with Honda just buys us time to assemble the right group of people,” Horner said. The Brit also suggests that the team intend to continue to use their own engine department in the future, implying that their great investment into the project means that abandoning it would be profligate.
“It needs to be a long-term view,” he insists. “Obviously the investment into the facilities to gear up for this are quite significant. So you’ve got both a short-term scenario of the existing regulations and then, of course, whatever the new regulations are, we need to be in a position to obviously take that on as well,” Horner said.
“Strategically this is a big commitment by the group. It shows their commitment to Formula 1 as well – to bring it on-site, on-campus here in Milton Keynes is an enormous undertaking,” Horner continued. “And one that truly integrates the power unit into the chassis.
“I think that really we have taken control of our own destiny and that respect of integrating your power unit with chassis,” the 47-year-old says. Horner also says that the team would consider a new engine partner if the circumstances were appropriate, and that they’d think ‘very seriously’ about the option if it arose.
“We won’t be beholden upon having a partner, so we’ve got the independence to do it ourselves. If an exciting partner comes along then of course it makes sense to look at it very seriously – whether that be an OEM or another type of partner, a battery manufacturer or whatever. It really depends what the regulations are,” Horner said.
Regarding developing their own power units and also being a supplier to other F1 teams, Horner has a very open approach. The fact that the engine regulations for 2025 is not to get complicated with the major chunk of the current make-up to continue on, it makes it much easier for them to work on it.
“First of all, what we will need to understand is what are those new regulations,” said Horner. “Obviously, the sooner the better for everybody, but one assumes from the latest discussions with the FIA that it is likely to be a combustion engine.
“There’s going to be, probably, 100 percent, sustainable fuels. There will probably be a slightly bigger emphasis on the energy recovery system. So the topography of what the engine is going to be isn’t dramatically removed from where we are, it’s just evolved.
“Therefore, the facility that we put in place for the current engine will have relevance of course to the future engines. And by taking on the obligations of an engine manufacturer, you’re bound by those regulations of obligation to supply, so that would be no different to any other manufacturer,” summed up Horner.
Talking about a sponsor to their in-house engines, Horner doesn’t think it will be the case this time around at this juncture. The team have attached sponsor names to power units in the past, such as when they branded their Renault engines ‘Tag Heuer’ units – a decision indicative of turmoil between Red Bull and Renault at the time.
“As far as the badging is concerned, there’s no discussions on the way regarding that, so it will be a Red Bull engine. As Mercedes is a Mercedes, it will be an incorporated part of the car so it will just be a Red Bull,” Horner insists, as he then added on an ‘principally understood’ notion regarding the freeze situation where manufacturer, who falls short, will be given some ways to catch up.
“Whilst there isn’t anything within the regulations there is an agreement between the teams or manufacturers that each have supported to the FIA to address it in the event that a manufacturer is out of kilter,” said Horner. So there is effectively an undertaking by each of the manufacturers to address it should it arise, whilst it’s not within the regulations
“It’s not as ideal as a regulation but I think it gives the FIA the necessary empowerment to bring the parties to the table. I think that’s important and I think there is a clear understanding, particularly from within the top level of each of the OEMs,” summed up Horner.
Here’s news on Red Bull signing deal with Honda
Here’s initial details from Helmut Marko on their plans
Here’s the decision from F1 Commission