The decision was made by Red Bull in 2014, to build their own F1 power unit in the future though denials from senior figures within the organisation were plentiful. In terms of definition, building their own power unit as TJ13’s has presented means that they are more than a customer PU team and own the process of delivering a power unit and its subsequent performance. This of course may involve sub-contracting out some of the production for components like a turbo for example, however, what is for certain is Newey will have some kind of input into all the engineering designs.
Red Bull were hoping one of the VW brands would partner with them from 2017 onwards, but set about constructing building 9 at their Milton Keynes site. Building 9 is at present an R&D and prototype manufacturing facility, and as TJ13 has reported contains a full sale automotive manufacturers AVL Virtual Test Track Rig. However, this facility will in the near future also have full production capabilities for certain PU components too.
Having decided that remaining in relationship with Renault was too painful, Red Bull hoped for a stop gap measure power unit supply from Mercedes. However, Red Bull failed to provide Mercedes with the assurances they required over marketing activities and so the deal was never concluded. Milton Keynes then turned toward Ferrari, who initially implied they were happy to supply the Red Bull family with 2016 power trains. Yet when push came to shove, Ferrari decided they only had capacity to supply one of the two bull teams.
In an apparent U-Turn of not insubstantial proportions, Ferrari appear to have discovered more capacity then they previously realised. Following the revelation from TJ13 that Red Bull were ‘building their own’ power train, Sergio Marchionne is now being most helpful.
Marchionne told a gathering at Finali Mondial in Mugello yesterday, “The possibility of collaborating with Red Bull on the development of the power unit is still a valid option, I again wish to re-affirm that, but this would not see Ferrari providing Red Bull with an equivalent engine to the one used by Ferrari in the [F1] races”. Marchionne explains, “We are willing to offer engineering and production services for an engine in a separate project for Red Bull, where Ferrari would commit to providing its best in terms of engineering and give the chance to Red Bull and other manufacturers to have these engines.
Just to ensure the point is clear, Sergio restates the position: “But they cannot be the same Ferrari engines that race on our cars.”
The Ferrari boss is still clearly sensitive over the criticism he has received for using the Ferrari veto to block the FIA and FOM from capping the cost charged by F1 power unit manufacturers to customer teams. Marchionne is clear, Ferrari will not “finance other teams” at the behest of anyone. Sergio states that Ferrari cannot share what is fundamentally its DNA – because this means “we would create our own competition.”
Red Bull Racing were set to announce the supply of an ‘unbranded’ engine from Renault this weekend, however, this didn’t happen. It would be easy to assume this delay is due to Red Bull now entering discussions with Ferrari for an engine block, however more probably this is just Sergio Marchionne making mischief with Red Bull. Further, as TJ13 revealed last week, Red Bull are well under way with development work on top of the Renault engine block as Mario Illien has designed and manufactured a prototype new cylinder head for the Renault F1 ICE block – which is good to go.