Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri will continue to use on Honda engines till at least the end of 2024, after the team based in Milton Keynes reached an agreement with the Japanese manufacturer to run their technology despite Honda’s decision to leave F1 at the end of 2021.
Red Bull has been in talks with the Japanese manufacturer for some time now, in order to avoid a necessary switch back to Renault power unit’s in case they were not able to find somebody else. This agreement was possible also due to the engine development freeze introduced by FIA, which means that the new generation of engines will come in 2025, enabling Red Bull and Alpha Tauri to use Honda’s technology.
As we can read in the official team statement available on the Red Bull Racing website: “Following Honda’s decision to exit Formula One as a power unit manufacturer at the end of the 2021 season, Red Bull has reached an agreement with Honda Motor Co Ltd to use Honda F1 power unit technology from the beginning of the 2022 season. Today’s announcement follows the FIA’s introduction of a Formula One power unit development freeze that takes effect from the beginning of the 2022 season. The Red Bull / Honda agreement covers the duration of the development freeze, enabling the use of Honda power unit technology in both Red Bull Racing and, sister team, Scuderia AlphaTauri’s cars until the next generation engines are introduced in 2025. In order to run the project, a new company named Red Bull Powertrains Limited has been formed. This new division will be housed and operated from Red Bull Racing’s F1 Team base on the Red Bull Technology Campus in Milton Keynes.”
Dr Helmut Marko, the Red Bull Motorsports Advisor said: “ We have been discussing this topic with Honda for some time and following the FIA’s decision to freeze power unit development from 2022, we could at last reach an agreement regarding the continued use of Honda’s hybrid power units. We are grateful for Honda’s collaboration in this regard and for helping to ensure that both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri continue to have competitive power units.”
He added: “The establishment of Red Bull Powertrains Limited is a bold move by Red Bull but it is one we have made after careful and detailed consideration. We are aware of the huge commitment required but we believe the creation of this new company is the most competitive option for both teams.”
The Team Principal of Red Bull Racing Christian Horner said: “This agreement represents a significant step for Red Bull in its Formula One journey. We were understandably disappointed when Honda made the decision to leave the sport as an engine manufacturer, as our relationship yielded immediate success, but we are grateful for their support in facilitating this new agreement. Honda has invested significantly in hybrid technology to ensure the supply of competitive power units to both teams.”
He added: “We now begin the work of bringing the power unit division in-house and integrating the new facilities and personnel into our Technology Campus. In the meantime, we are fully focused on achieving the best possible results in what will be Honda’s final season as an official power unit supplier.”
Indeed, as it stands now, the decision to form a separate powertrain unit based on the Honda technology is probably the best situation for Red Bull. It is by no means a surprising news as the talks about a formation of such unit have been going on for some time, but this move ensures that the amount of suppliers on the grid is not gonna go lower (which could have an influence on the competitiveness of F1) but can possibly produce interesting results, knowing that Red Bull will be fully in charge of the entirety of the car and could collaborate more specifically and closely between different departments to provide even better results for the team.
So far Honda and Red Bull secured five race victories to date, and numerous podiums for both Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri, a stint definitely more successful than the previous relationship with McLaren between 2015 and 2017.
"Honda is pleased that, following our decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021, we have been able to reach an agreement for the two Red Bull-owned teams to use our F1 PU technology in F1 after 2021."#PoweredByHonda pic.twitter.com/dk4AlW2U0q— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) February 15, 2021