Red Bull in advanced talks with Honda


Given that the 2016 driver market is almost finalised, the Red Bull Hokey Cokey has provided us all with an opportunity to keep running what if scenarios. One few have entertained is the breaking news today.

Red Bull Racing are unlikely to try out the upgraded Renault power unit, according to Daniel Ricciardo. “It’s available if we want to use it, that would mean a penalty though. We’ve got to understand if it is worth it. Last I heard it is not massive”.

If Red Bull were thinking of running the ‘upgraded’ Renault engine at all before the end of the season, the weather forecasts of torrential rain provides them with the ideal opportunity to take grid drop penalties and a new engine, without suffering the usual level of pain this brings due to the complete unpredictability of qualifying and probably the race.

As TJ13 suggested earlier this week, failing to try out the new Renault power unit clearly indicates that Red Bull have no intention of partnering with Renault in 2016. They are forfeiting valuable track time and a grid penalty free race next weekend to evaluate the progress Renault have made.

The Aussie driver concludes, “Right now we are less likely to take it. That’s about it”.

Toro Rosso have made it clear they will not run this engine upgrade in any of the remaining four races this season as Carlos Sainz explains: “No. We’re going to stick for the rest of the year with the old spec. I don’t think, given the values that they’ve given, it’s worth getting another grid penalty and to start last”.

“These last four tracks are similar to this one [Austin]. Not the best tracks, as they have long straights, but not the worst. So if we can be there, close to the top 10, top eight on some of them, to start last is too much. It isn’t worth it. We will commit to this year’s spec that we have now. It’s good enough to finish the year and we have plenty of them.”

TJ13 learned last night that intensive talks are currently under way between Red Bull and Honda for a 2016 F1 engine supply. This appears the last option open to Mateschitz ‘A’ team given Ferrari and Mercedes have stated they will not provide Red Bull with an engine. McLaren’s position on Red Bull partnering with Honda for 2016 is unknown at present, though extra engines on track delivering valuable data from a competitive chassis would be invaluable for Honda and in turn McLaren.

As TJ13 has continued to exclusively report, The Bull’s Milton Keynes HQ has developed and is running an engine testing facility in its building 9. The plan was to partner with a VW brand and introduce a ‘new’ manufacturer engine in 2017. Ferrari and Mercedes learned of this plan and it made their decision to refuse Red Bull a power unit for 2016 even more catagoric.

Meanwhile Red Bull has been working on the design and development of an ERS unit, which is not so surprising when considering McLaren were keen to offer expertise to assist Honda in this area too. Further, any team that can afford to crash 60 plus different nose designs has the money to undertake this R&D.

In addition, Bernie Ecclestone has been making a lot of noise about F1 needing an ‘independent‘ engine supplier like Cosworth. TJ13 has also learned that together with Mario Illien, Cosworth are collaborating with Red Bull on a feasibility project aimed longer term at producing an F1 internal combustion engine.

Red Bull have always insisted they cannot produce an engine for Formula One, yet it seems they have backed themselves into such a corner – the only longer term option remaining is to try – or quit Formula One. A Red Bull exit is now something paddock folk have been taking more seriously this week since Bernie Ecclestone dismissed Red Bull’s lack of engine woe stating: “My argument would be: ‘You signed the contract to compete. You should have made sure when you signed the contract that you had an engine. Your team was supposed to do this.’”

But right now – TJ13 believes Honda is close to agreeing to play ball. The seeds of this agreement may well have been in the concessions made last week to allow in season engine development in 2016. Honda were known to be keen to be allowed a redesign which required more than the 25 tokens as the regulations stated. A total of 32 tokens are now set to be allowed for 2016 engine upgrades.

27 responses to “Red Bull in advanced talks with Honda

  1. Honda???…If that deal does go through, it would be very interesting to see how they react to being hit with 35 grid place penalties.

    They’d be better off staying with Renault for 2016

    • Short term pain, for long term gain is probably the logic from Red Bull i.e. use what they’ve learned from being with Renault and possibly Honda into the rumoured Red Bull/Cosworth Power Unit.

      As far as Honda goes ? The more data the better. Various rumours have it that Honda know what the problem is and how to fix it, it’s just a matter of do they have enough time to get it done over the winter for 2016 or will they have to wait for 2017 to properly implement a fix i.e. Turbo, Compressor and MGU-H redesigns.

      Logically Red Bull would be better off staying with Renault, however I think that bridge has probably been burned and sunk into an abyss by now. But never say never, especially in F1.

      I for one hope Renault sticks around in F1 and gets the power unit to work or at least learned enough from it to scrap it and start again when the regulations allow.

      • How red bull not thinking about “short term pain for long term gain” when this all started baffles me. They could have had this mindset with renault in the first place!
        The only good thing about red bull’s tantrums at the moment is that renault is looking to buy lotus

        • Impatience from the top of Red Bull is what’s going on here. The best laid plans have gone pearshaped thanks to VW. So they have a decision to make – exit F1 with tails firmly stuck behind their legs or face the long hard road back to the top of the pile to rub it in everyone’s faces once they get there.

          I’m still of the view that Red Bull would probably be better as the commercial rights owner/promoter of the sport. Owning teams won’t get them the marketing bang for their buck they are looking for.

  2. I can’t imagine Honda agreeing to supply them. Red Bull have created way too much negativity towards their existing engine partner for Honda to risk it.

    • Well Honda are still supplying Fernando and he’s said far far more damning things about Honda than anyone at Red Bull said about Renault!

  3. I don’t think any talk with Honda is serious. It’ll probably be an interim solution. He wants to make a point and not have to beg Renault for engines for 2016. So he’s trying to negotiate a Honday engine for a year or two before they enter a Cosworth-style, independent-like, RBR-manufactured engine.

  4. It would be ideal for Honda. And McLaren. If the Honda works better in an RBR chassis (I don’t talk about the combo, but the packaging of the engine and it’s cooling stuff having an effect of the efficiency of the engine itself), than it helps Honda. When the Honda works the same but the combo is faster, McLaren knows that they have to work on the chassis and they might learn a thing or two from Honda RBR engine engineers. If the Honda is as unreliable as last year, than the benefit for McLaren is that they might have a chance to put RBR behind them because of their experience from 2015.

    The thing about RBR talking to Honda, as in RBR preffering Honda over Renault, raises -imho- question about Renault. Are Renault no longer comitted to 2016 and their own team -they want out and are not offering much support for next year-?
    Does RBR know from measured data that the Honda has more potential than Renault?
    Does Renault have no clear plan for 2016 direction yet – leading to another year like 2015-?

  5. I cant see RBR plus Illien plus Cosworth building a ‘competitive’ hybrid anywhere remotely closer to Merc and Ferrari any quicker than Honda or even Renault. I cant see RBR happy with the independent off the shelf solution i Cosworths last V8 indicates the difference in engine makers and engine makers with Merc resources

  6. Oh my God, the potential for hilarity is HUGE. The mere prospect of anybody considering to supply engines to Red Bull is crazy after all the toys they threw and the hissy fits they made because the Renault was no longer putting them at the top.

    Honda have already taken enough stick from McLaren and Alonso for being a “GP2 engine” supplier, imagine what Red Bull are going to say. Plus, imagine the hilarity of McLaren lagging behind the Red Bull despite having a year more of experience with the Honda engine, Alonso and Dennis will be having a meltdown of cataclysmic proportions. Can’t wait :p

    I can see the logic though, Horner and co are too childish and stubborn to admit that Renault is their only option left so they will choose Honda (not even a realistic option given they’re 1-2 years behind Renault ni terms of development anyway) just to spite Renault.

    • I think Red Bull will have learned their lesson, don’t you think. Still, it raises questions about the sport or rather the lack of competition when one manufacturer can determine the outcome of so many.

    • To spite Renault?

      Please count how many power units the 4 Renault powered drivers have used this year.

      Red bull said some naughty things about Renault. Fact.

      Renault failed to deliver a competitive power unit and spent ZERO tokens until this weekend. Fact.

      Anyone taking Renaults side is basically a complete parrot unable to think for themselves just repeating the same old lines for the past year.

      Renault failed. Renault failed, say it with me this time, Renault failed.

    • My personal view is that Red Bull will eventually be a works team and build their own engine, if Dietrich decides to stay and play the long-term game. I don’t think he wants to (stay) but only he knows what he wants so we’ll see I guess.

      • Basically… let’s see, spend 500 million to get out of red bull and take a brand image hit or suck it up for 1 more year, spend 200 million to develope a PU in house and stay in the headlines in a positive way.

        easy choice.

        plus you know, building 9 already exists as reported here.

    • T’was always so.
      Regulatory (and, therefore, political) chaos = predictable races.
      Regulatory (and political) stability = closer on-track action.

  7. Honda seems like an appropriate power unit for a proud team like Red Bull who have already stated that they will not race with any engine other than the best.

  8. Off topic.

    Tomorrow, the second last round of the MotoGP world championship runs at Malaysia. You all know Sepang in F1; in MotoGP it’s a great motorcycle circuit.

    It’s mathematically possible that Valentino Rossi is crowned with his 8th premier class Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship. Like F1 (is supposed to be) this is the highest form of prototype Grand Prix racing for two wheels.

    If he does secure his 8th title, he will equal Giacomo Agostini’s record that’s stood since 1975. Aussie Mick Doohan came close in the 90’s, winning 5 premier class titles, but the injuries caught up with him.

    If you haven’t followed Rossi’s career, it all seemed over after moving to Ducati and finding out no one can ride the thing but crazy Australians (Troy Bayliss then Casey Stoner). He returned to Yamaha and never seemed quite as quick, or comfortable – but his race craft remained epic.

    However, it’s clear he’s been reengineering his bike over the past two years and building momentum and consistency, whilst Marquez dominated with Honda (yes, Honda) in 2013 (his Rookie year) and 2014.

    I know you all like racing, but some don’t like bikes. But, the next two rounds are not about bikes anymore, but history in the making. The races have been WILD, and I can’t imagine they’ll cool off now. The 2015 season has had some of the best races I’ve ever seen, no less than Phillip Island which I attended last week.

    Today, Rossi out qualified his much younger, and some say quicker-over-a-lap, team-mate; also the remaining title challenger.

    Might be worth getting out of ones comfort zone to watch the pressure and insanity at the moment in the championship as well as a guy who has been winning world championship level GP’s for almost 20 years across all classes, with many teams.



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