Chasing their fifth Constructors’ title, Red Bull sign a two-year contract with Honda, both parties announced yesterday in the main stream media.
Since the announcement, the F1 community is abuzz with the deal Red Bull singed with Honda for their engine – a story that TJ13 broke a week ago and accurately anticipated as far back as September 2017.
Red Bull have been using Renault engine since 2007 and they won Four Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship with them. But in the hybrid era, beginning 2014, they were not able to match their rivals and often they blamed Renault for not providing them with a competitive engine.
The relationship between Red Bull and Renault deteriorated fast. First they parted ways with Renault when their junior team Toro Rosso ended the deal from 2018 and went with Honda. Then it was matter of time before Red Bull chose Honda over Renault.
While it was believed that the final decision would be taken during Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull surprised the world by announcing their decision before the start of French Grand Prix this weekend.
What does this mean for Red Bull?
While Red Bull won Championships with Renault, they were never been a ‘works’ team. This deal with Honda provides them with an opportunity to be a ‘works’ team. Now both Red Bull and Toro Rosso will use Honda powered engine for 2019 and 2020 season under a different set-up.
Speaking on their decision to chose Honda as their engine supplier Christian Horner said, “This multi-year agreement with Honda signals the start of an exciting new phase in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s efforts to compete not just for grand prix wins but for what is always our goal – championship titles.”
“After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team. We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own,” he added further.
Reflecting upon the deal with Honda, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said, “This partnership with Honda signals a new era for Red Bull Group in Formula One with both the Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing teams benefitting from common supply co-ordinated through Red Bull Technology.
“We have been extremely impressed by Honda’s commitment and progress and share like-minded ambitions to compete for Championships. With this integrated approach between the companies we very much look forward to working with Honda.”
Rather interestingly, and something the TJ13 sources within Red Bull didn’t disclose to us, was that this deal had actually been signed some time ago, as far back as Monaco 2018.
Missed Apex Podcast claims that they were told last week; the deal between Red Bull and Honda was signed already, but with a clause that if the Canadian GP upgrades failed to deliver Honda’s promised, incremental improvements, they could break away from the deal.
Certainly it appears that keeping Renault in the dark and hanging was intended by Red Bull to hinder Renault’s chances of making a good recovery in 2019 having lost their flagship team. The original decision for Red Bull should’ve been made in May this year, but Renault extended the deadline rather stupidly.
What’s in it for Honda?
After McLaren fiasco, Honda was looking for a face saving deal. First they switched with Renault to power Toro Rosso and now they snatched Red Bull from Renault.
This Honda-Red Bull relationship is a symbiotic relationship. While Red Bull get to become a ‘works’ outfit despite the denials of such status by the Japanese, Honda will be benefitted by the fact that Red Bull is a youthful, and lively brand that promote adventures. This will be a boost to their image after they suffered ignominy at the end of their deal with McLaren.
On the deal with Red Bull Honda president Takahiro Hachigo said, “Having two teams means we can access twice as much data as previously. We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and Championships, building two strong partnerships.
“Discussions proceeded very quickly, thanks to Red Bull’s open and respectful attitude towards Honda, leading to a deal that is fair and equitable for all parties.” – Interestingly by saying “respectful to Honda”, clearly shows how disrespected they felt by McLaren since 2015.
What Renault has to say?
In a statement Renault said, “Two years after Renault’s return as a works team, we consider this is a natural evolution for both Renault and Red Bull Racing in view of their respective aspirations.
After two seasons, we are fully focused on the strong progression of Renault Sport Formula One Team, while continuing to foster the fresh relationship with McLaren Racing.”
Thanking Renault for their engine for last 12 years, Christian Horner said, “We would like to thank Renault for the past 12 years, a period during which we experienced some incredible moments together. We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit.”
While Red Bull signed the contract with Honda, but does this deal excite their star driver Daniel Ricciardo? Are both Red Bull and Ricciardo on the same page on this?
It seems both Christian Horner and Helmut Marko will have tough time convincing Ricciardo to stay. But if there is an iota of doubt in Ricciardo’s mind about Honda’s capability then negotiation might not materialise if he finds a worthy seat elsewhere.