Formula 1 was back in the headlines after the F1 Commission had taken place on the 11th of Feb. And the 2022 Engine Freeze news brought all eyes on Red Bull. And after a few short days, Red Bull announced their new company, Red Bull Powertrains Limited. Red Bull signed a deal with Honda to use Honda F1 Technology. This means Honda is leaving F1, but their technology is staying. This deal allowed Red Bull to supply F1 engines. They will supply to Red Bull and AlphaTauri from 2022 onwards, through their new company. From 2022, Red Bull will be F1 engine manufacturers too.
Since Honda is leaving after the 2021 F1 Season, the Red Bull teams needed an engine supplier. Renault, now Alpine, aren’t supplying engines to any other team at the moment. The current regulations mandated them to supply to the Red Bull teams. But if the Red Bull teams found another external supplier, things would be different. Red Bull wouldn’t have to take engines from Renault.
However, it didn’t look like Red Bull could convince Ferrari, Mercedes, or another engine manufacturer to supply to them. And taking on Honda’s F1 technology would cost too much money from Red Bull. But then the development freeze came in. Before the freeze, first, Red Bull would have to spend money to facilitate taking over Honda’s F1 projects. Then, Red Bull would have to spend money on developing the engines for Red Bull and AlphaTauri. That would cost too much. But now, Red Bull can take on Honda’s F1 projects, because they don’t have to spend money developing the engines.
This shows that none of the teams has benefited from the engine freeze as much as the Red Bull teams. Sure, all the teams will save a large amount of money from the freeze. But still, none of the teams will be able to get such a boost as Red Bull did. Before we analys this decision, let’s see what some of the bosses said.
Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Koji Watanabe’s Views
“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,” said Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko.
“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.
“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.”
Honda’s Chief Officer Brand and Communication Operations Koji Watanabe also spoke about this news.
“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.
“We are fully committed to our goal of Honda being carbon neutral by 2050, which is why we are diverting our F1 resources to this new target. However, as a company that has been involved in Formula 1 for several decades, we felt it was the right thing to do to help our two current teams and indeed the sport as a whole.
“By allowing Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri to use our F1 PU technology it should ensure they can race competitively, which is also good for the sport and the fans.”
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said: “This agreement represents a significant step for Red Bull in its Formula 1 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. 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.”
Christian Horner also added that Red Bull’s appetite would have been much diminished. Red Bull needed to find a way to take over the Honda project. He added that Red Bull had grown out of being a customer team. They saw that it could be uneasy for the team to buy from Renault. Renault and Red Bull’s relationship ended on an incredibly sour note in 2018. Horner also added that “The aspirations of this team surpass that of some of the current suppliers.
“What we’ve experienced with Honda has been a fantastic partnership and relationship. It’s a shame it comes to a premature end at the end of this year; we’ve had two successful and enjoyable seasons so far, we’re determined to have a competitive and enjoyable final season in Formula 1.
“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.”
Why Red Bull Would Be In Trouble Without Honda’s Cooperation
What a lot of people have not realized is that Honda has been incredibly cooperative with Red Bull. Just signing over such major technology and resources was already great. It already showed a lot of cooperation from both Honda and Red Bull. But what I’m about to elaborate on next shows there’s a lot more to it than that.
Usually, if Honda were staying for 2022, things would be as follows. They would develop their engines throughout 2021. This would make the engines fully upgraded and ready to compete well in 2022 and beyond. Since Honda is leaving the sport after 2021, things are different. Their commitment to development ends when they’ve finished developing their engines to make them ready for the 2021 season.
But Honda and Red Bull have a very good relationship. Honda wants to succeed in F1 through and with Red Bull. So they agreed to continue developing their engines through 2021. This gives Red Bull and AlphaTauri a much better fighting chance for the future.
“They are continuing the optimisation of the engine,” said Horner. “They brought forward developments that they’d planned for next year already into this year which is an enormous effort, so the main challenge is the optimisation and the development of the E10 fuel.”
He added: “They will hand over the engine effectively for the start of the freeze, and they will continue to assist during 2022 with the assembly of engines. I have to say Honda has been tremendously accommodating to enable this to happen and to give us the necessary time to get ourselves geared up.
Honda has a base in Milton Keynes in the UK, which Honda has handed over to Red Bull. This includes all of their UK staff and their skill, knowledge and experience. This will really help Red Bull since Red Bull are already familiar with them. And since Red Bull will be using Honda technology for their own engines, these staff can maximise the engine’s performance. They can also use their experience and skill with Honda’s engines to fix any issues that occur.
“We will inherit the vast majority of HRD UK (Honda Research and Development UK), which is the operational side of Honda based in Milton Keynes,” said Horner. “So that gives us a standing start that already all of the people that we already know and interface with we’ll look to take under the new company. Then we are in the process of setting out some of the other roles. These will be filled over the next coming weeks and months. But I think the agreement that we’ve achieved with Honda just buys us time to assemble the right group of people.”
Red Bull’s Plans For 2025 And Beyond
Red Bull are also building engine facilities in their HQ in Milton Keynes. These facilities are going to be built so that by 2025, when the new engine era comes, Red Bull are golden. By 2025, Red Bull are aiming to stop relying on Honda and their technology. When the engine regulation change comes, Red Bull will develop, build, and supply engines that they made completely on their own. They’ll do this in their own facilities in Milton Keynes, as I mentioned earlier, rather than in Honda’s facilities.
This engine freeze and deal with Honda was already a long-term decision. But we can now see that it reflects a much larger commitment to Formula 1 for Red Bull and AlphaTauri. The engine has always been an Achilles heel for Red Bull. It’s always been the part of their car that just doesn’t meet the standards of the rest of the car. That’s why Red Bull is usually really successful at races like the Monaco GP. The Circuit de Monaco is designed for a good chassis and good aerodynamics, rather than a good engine.
This decision that Red Bull have made is going to finally get rid of their engine issues. The only problem will be if the Honda engine doesn’t do well this year and in the years of the engine freeze. And also, if Red Bull’s 2025 engine isn’t good either, then Red Bull will face problems. However, we’ve seen how the Honda engine performs with the Red Bull car, so Red Bull’s chances look pretty good. Let me know in the comments below, what do you think of this decision? Do you think Red Bull did the right thing? I know I do! Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts!