Dr. Helmut Marko says Red Bull is already working on various solutions after the decision of Honda as he says they can exit F1 but it is not a priority.
Honda surprised the motor racing world by confirming its exit from F1 at the end of 2021 season, leaving both Red Bull and AlphaTauri with no engine manufacturer. They cited carbon neutrality by 2050 as its prime reason to pull back from the sport.
However, Honda will remain in other championships, especially IndyCar. The Japanese manufacturer will bring a new power unit in 2021, though, with the aim to try and win the title with Red Bull. While it seemed a surprise to many, it wasn’t to Marko.
The Austrian revealed that he and Dietrich Mateschitz knew it was coming for a ‘long time’. It is unclear how long that was as Honda stated that they initially told Red Bull about their thought process only in August before their final decision came in September end.
“Mr. Horner is a team principal, but not involved in strategic matters,” said Marko to Speedweek, when asked about the team principal’s recent comments regarding working together with Honda for long. “Mr. Mateschitz and I have known for a long time.”
When pressed for how long, Marko stated, “longer [but] during the current season”, before adding that they are already working on various solutions. When asked if they can develop their own engine with the help of another partner, the Austrian wasn’t clear.
“We work in all directions because we knew about Honda’s decision for a long time,” is what he said, as on the topic of Renault being the only big possibility, he once again kept it low-profile and on the diplomatic front than his usual straight answer.
“All options will be sorted and then Red Bull will decide what happens,” he said. “We sort, present a concept, then a decision is made. We will research all possibilities. Everything will be sorted, if we have results [of Renault], we’ll see and our plan is for the end of the year [to sort things out],” summed up Marko.
Considering that both Red Bull and AlphaTauri already signed the Concorde Agreement until 2025, Marko eventually confirmed the point of an annual clause to leave F1, something which was discussed during the press conference but no one gave a complete answer.
“We can cancel the contract annually,” stated Marko. “There is an option to exit at the end of each year. This is not our priority. Now the sorting is done, and when we have the facts together, Mr. Mateschitz will decide.”
Moving on to the driver situation, with a growing talk about Sergio Perez or even Nico Hulkenberg being considered to replace Alexander Albon beside Max Verstappen, Marko was clear that the Thai has the chance to perform and he will be retained.
Additionally, the Austrian also stated that F1 has to live with COVID-19 for now, even if the cases rises. In fact, he revealed that couple of drivers were together with people who have been infected – includes girlfriend of a driver – but the racers didn’t get the virus.
“If Alex Albon performs well, he stays,” said Mar. If not, there will be deliberation. We would then see which drivers who are good are on the market. But that’s not an issue at the moment. On the fans side, Sochi was a good event with them.
“It will not be able to continue like this with the restrictive measures [of no fans for long]. We had a driver whose girlfriend was infected and he wasn’t infected. Another was at a party where three infected people were present, and that was also negative,” summed up Marko.
Here’s the news on Honda leaving F1
Here’s Cyril Abiteboul responding to Honda leaving and providing to Red Bull
Here’s Honda explaining all of its decision
Here’s what was said regarding Concorde Agreement signing