Christian Horner reckons the powertrain project that Red Bull is to start gives him a similar vibes and challenge just as having a successful F1 team.
When Red Bull entered F1, there was a notion that they weren’t as serious about the job, as one has to be. But once they started winning, they never looked back. The four world championships made them a worthy contender until the hybrid regulations kicked-in.
Since then, they have been playing a catch-up game to Mercedes, first with Renault and now with Honda. The latter is to leave the sport after 2021 F1 season, but Red Bull has a deal in place to use their engines, with development work in their premises.
The development limitations will help them get through the period until 2024 without huge expenditure, but with the new engine regulations coming in 2025, will be a new challenge for them. Red Bull is already making progress, with the hiring of Ben Hodgkinson.
He will join the team in the time to come after decades with Mercedes HPP. Red Bull is taking a bold step to develop its own engines, which Horner reckons is a similar challenge to when they started out. “We broke ground on building work for the new facility and confirmed the appointment of Ben Hodgkinson as Technical Director,” he started.
“Ben will head up all technical aspects with a key focus on developing Red Bull’s inaugural power unit, to comply with the new Formula One regulations currently planned for 2025.
He comes to this hugely exciting project as a proven race winner and as an innovator capable of leading a like-minded team of highly skilled engineers.
“His appointment signals our long-term intent and we will support him and his team with every available resource required in order to succeed. Other than Ferrari, we will be the only F1 team who has an engine department fully integrated into the team on the same campus which is hugely important to us.
“This is a huge undertaking but we are approaching it with the same methodology that has made us successful on the chassis side. We will recruit key talent in order to build the strongest group of minds possible and provide those people with the facilities and support they need to succeed.
“This sort of project excites us and should excite others as we look down the road to the implementation of the new regulations when we will build a Red Bull designed and manufactured engine. People thought we would never have a successful F1 team and we proved them wrong. We see this as a huge opportunity and one we are fully invested in,” summed up Horner.
The powertrain work is coming at a time when F1 has introduced a Cost Cap, which is hurting the bigger teams more. Already Red Bull had to trim down their team, which Horner described as a painful thing – especially, saying goodbye to many members.
Horner agreed with Toto Wolff, with regards to heavy crashes like that in Imola, having a bearing on the team’s development work. “This season, F1 has introduced a budget cap and it is up to the teams to work within those restrictions, which is not an easy task for the bigger teams,” he said. “We went through a restructure over the winter, which was very tough and saw us having to downsize across certain departments.
“We made the difficult decision to take the pain early on so everyone knew where they stood and I understand other teams have elected to take a different approach and are now completing that challenging process. The budget cap is a big factor when it comes to performance, so a big crash like the one Valtteri had in Imola could hamper your ability to develop the current car as Toto said.
“But with the circuits we have coming up, including street circuits with close barriers, accidents will happen to everyone and we will all have to deal with the same challenge at some point. The other aspect is that with a new set of regulations for 2022, you have to weigh up how you split your resources over the two cars. There is a tricky balancing act between committing to the new car and working on the current car which we are all having to navigate,” summed up Horner.
Here’s news of Red Bull hiring Ben Hodgkinson
Here’s Toto Wolff on crash hurting balance
Here’s Ross Brawn on F1 Sprint Qualifying