Red Bull found itself in serious troubles when last October their Power Unit supplier, Honda, decided to call it a day and leave Formula One at the end of the season, after re-joining the series in 2015 with McLaren.
For the moment, the issue seems to have been resolved – Indeed, in February, a joint statement by Red Bull and Honda unveiled that the two parties have found an agreement to continue working together until 2025. More specifically, Red Bull has set up Red Bull Powertrains Limited, where they’ll continue to run Honda’s technology despite the Japanese opting to leave the series at the end of the 2021 campaign.
Red Bull’s team advisor Helmut Marko said the team would rather find a new partner to supply their power unit ahead of F1 rules change in 2025.
He explained that Red Bull has been in talks with potential new partners, including Volkswagen Group, which have been rumoured to be pondering an entry into the series once the new engine regulations are introduced in 2025.
"We have had conversations in the past - sometimes more extensive, sometimes more superficial. It's routine," Marko commented, according to Motorsport-Total, "but it is not that one could say that it is going in any specific direction."
However, he has not ruled out altogether the possibility for the Milton Keynes-based team to build its own engine.
"Thank God we have a lot of very competent people at Red Bull Racing. The cost cap frees up some of these people. We are gradually moving them over to Red Bull Powertrains" he added.
Based on actual regulations, Renault, which has currently the least amount of customer teams, would have been obliged to supply Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines. Yet, at Red Bull they are convinced they have the potential to win the World Championship and to do that, they want to be in full control of their engine supply.
A few months ago, Team Principal Christian Horner explained: “Red Bull is almost too grown up to be a customer team […] the aspirations of this team surpass that of some of the current suppliers".
And talking about Red Bull and Honda’s agreement on continuing to use the Japanese technology he added: “Red Bull very much takes control of its own future and destiny by this move for the powertrain and the establishment of that company and that commitment. It’s safeguarded the commitment of Red Bull to Formula 1 for the foreseeable future.”
Starting from the upcoming season, Red Bull will keep co-operating with Honda staff based in the UK, and this will be particularly important to transfer their know-how to the Milton Keynes-team. Then, from 2022, the Honda name and logo will disappear from the car.
Back in February, Horner said they had no plans nor intentions over re-branding the engine: “It will be a Red Bull engine,” he said, “as Mercedes is a Mercedes, it will be an incorporated part of the car so it will just be a Red Bull.”
Horner’s referral to their power unit as being a “Red Bull engine” clearly shows the team long-term commitment to the sport, as well as suggesting how seriously they’re taking this new challenge.
Perhaps, gaining full control over their engine project – and thus being able to fully integrate heir PU and chassis design, like other manufacturer teams Ferrari, Mercedes and Alpine – could be the winning card for Red Bull to go back being title-fighters.