Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says “constructive” talks and an alignment among teams over an engine freeze in F1 have boosted the Milton Keynes outfit’s hopes of retaining Honda power after 2021.
Honda’s decision to exit Formula 1 at the end of next season has left Red Bull scrambling to find an engine solution for both its teams in F1 from 2022.
While a supply deal with Renault is theoretically possible, Red Bull’s preference is to take over Honda’s power unit program, but only if a freeze on engine development is enforced by the FIA as Red Bull does not have the resources to engage in a costly development war with its Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault rivals.
The principle of an engine freeze was initially opposed by Ferrari and Renault, while Mercedes deemed the idea a “sensible proposal”. However, both teams’ stance has evolved during recent discussions, thanks in part to the prospect of bringing forward F1’s new engine regulations by a year, in 2025.
However, it remains to be decided whether a “safety net” provision – that would allow a manufacturer to develop its unit should it significantly lag its rivals in performance – should be introduced.
“We’ve got constructive discussions going on with Honda and the FIA, and I think that we are close to coming to a conclusion,” Horner said.
“The FIA are consulting the other teams. I think there’s alignment regarding a freeze.
“It’s just, should there be a safety net if an engine manufacturer under shoots from one season to the next? Otherwise, to lock in performance for three years, could be quite damaging.”
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While bringing Honda’s engine program in-house remains Red Bull’s preferred solution, the Japanese manufacturer admits that the logistics associated with such an endeavor are complicated by Honda splitting its manufacturing program between the UK and Japan.
“In Milton Keynes, we mainly develop and then manufacture the ERS system area, and the main ICE is developed in Sakura R&D in Japan,” explained Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda’s F1 technical director.
“Anyway, it’s a very complicated situation, especially in Honda Formula 1. The discussion is ongoing now.
“We haven’t got any conclusion yet so we will consider every circumstance in our project.”
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