Honda engine deal “safeguards” Red Bull’s commitment to F1 – Horner

2021 F1 season

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Failure to agree a deal to continue using Honda’s power units would have left Red Bull’s commitment to Formula 1 in doubt, says team principal Christian Horner.

The team confirmed last week it will set up a new powertrain operation to run the ex-Honda units after the manufacturer leaves the sport at the end of the year. The move follows an agreement to freeze engine designs at the beginning of the 2022 F1 season.

Horner admitted that without those developments, Red Bull would have reappraised its position in F1.

“It’s always difficult to quantify because obviously we have agreements and commitments, but the appetite would have been much diminished,” he said.

Red Bull has used Honda power units since 2019. Prior to that it was a Renault engine customer, but Horner made it clear the team did not want to return to that arrangement.

“Red Bull is almost too grown-up to be a customer team,” he said. “We saw that it could be uneasy. And of course 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.

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“But Red Bull very much takes control of its own future and destiny by this move with the power train and the establishment of that company and that commitment. So it’s safeguarded the commitment of Red Bull to Formula 1 for the foreseeable future.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2020
Red Bull beat Mercedes last time out
However Horner said he could not make “a firm commitment” when the team would be in a position to rival Mercedes for the world championship. “Obviously as soon as possible,” he said.

“Mercedes was so dominant last year. That DNA is probably the large percentage, obviously, of their current car. We demonstrated in Abu Dhabi that they are beatable at a track that they’ve been unbeaten at the previous six or seven years. We just need to be able to do that on a consistent basis across the 22 or 23 races.

“I think that we are gathering momentum. Nobody has a crystal ball, it’s impossible to sit here and predict. We’ve just got to focus on each race at a time, get the most out of it we can. Make sure that we do the best job we can with the new regs for 2022 within the confines of the regulations. And then we’ll see. It’s impossible to have a crystal ball to say.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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58 comments on “Honda engine deal “safeguards” Red Bull’s commitment to F1 – Horner”

  1. @dieter Rencken, Thank a good story!

  2. I know that a lot of people on here dislike Red Bull, but the truth is that F1 is simply better with RBR than without them.

    They build good cars and promote so many young drivers into the sport. Without Red Bull we would have never known Vettel, Ricciardo, Sainz or Gasly.

    (I exclude Verstappen from that list because he would’ve made it anyway)

    1. Without Red Bull, all those drivers would have made it in with other backing.
      And Red Bull’s two teams would just have different names and ownership.

      Shall we also list all the decent drivers whose F1 career has been dramatically shortened due to Red Bull’s impatience?

      1. Why should we? And why should we diminish Red bull’s contribution to the sport at all, for that matter?

        There’s plenty of examples of other teams having junior drivers that have short or no F1 careers despite being attached to junior programme’s. Merc has had people like Wehrlein and Ocon, one of whom barely even tasted F1, the other who had to sit out a year until he left the program because they couldn’t get him anything. Renault never promotes junior drivers at all to F1 seats. McLaren had Vandoorne for two years, but left De Vries in the cold, etc.

        There’s a limited amount of seats in F1, and some drivers just aren’t going to make it or aren’t going to be there for long. It’s by design, there’s not any more seats and if you’re not at the top of your game, there’s a rookie ready to take your seat.

    2. Since when do people dislike Red Bull as an entity? I think you’ll find there is a difference between disliking the entire team and disagreeing with the politics of their team principal. Just because I think Horner as an over inflated sense of importance doesn’t mean I dislike Red Bull and there are many others with similar feelings.

      Sounds like a bit of victim playing on your part to excuse your behaviour against their critics tbh.

      1. Pretty much, like RB going against an engine freeze earlier in 2020 than throwing their toys out of the prem and calling for one after Honda left them. Wasn’t like they were not going to be left without an engine.

  3. @keith Collantine, I think there is a problem with the site the top info is overlapping the articles!

  4. Honestly so much garbage comes out of the management of red bull it makes me pretty sick

    Who exactly do they think they are? They had a short period of being dominant and then what?

    Put up or shut up the springs to mind, I’m glad that sorted their engines out because if they want to play like a big team then quite frankly they need to be a big team and put the money to it

    If Redbull want to quit the sport that’s absolutely fine by me, there’s plenty of other people out there that will buy the team from them and will hopefully have a far better attitude

    Good night honestly think people give a dam?

    1. @the-edge

      there’s plenty of other people out there that will buy the team from them and will hopefully have a far better attitude

      Better attitude = accepting the fact that only Mercedes can win in this era and just be a happy loser

      Red Bull want to be the best team, they are not in this sport for the participation trophy. Red Bull are one of the few (arguably the only) team on the grid who truly has the ambition and desire to beat Mercedes.

      Red Bull also give loads of young drivers a chance, which makes them stand out from Mercedes who do not give young drivers a chance. Without Red Bull, you wouldn’t know who Sebastian Vettel or Daniel Ricciardo were.

      1. The point is if Redbull want their own engine then that is fine, if Redbull want to quit this fault then that is fine,

        What is not okay is to literally act like a child in the playground and say if I don’t get my own way I’m not playing

        It is childish, unprofessional, and just sounds out right silly

        You don’t hear any other team acting like it, (well maybe Ferrari on occasion but it’s clear they never mean it too)

        In fact it is unimaginable for any other team on the grid to ever utter that

        It just goes to show how uncommitted Redbull actually are

        1. It’s neither childish or unprofessional, it is politics.

          Ferrari has uttered the phrase “if it doesn’t change we will quit F1” almost once a year.

          Politics is as important in F1 as the racing is.

        2. Literally every team does this. It’s a negotiation tactic. F1 is dependent on each of the teams -especially the top teams- and vice versa. So the team being a bargaining chip is a perfectly normal tactic. Ferrari uses their F1 entry as a bargaining chip. Mercedes does the same. So does Red Bull.

          If it annoys you from Red Bull, but not from Ferrari, that probably says something about your bias, but honestly I find it kinda weird that a team looking out for its own interests would annoy you so.

          1. Every team does this?

            Go on then… other than Ferrari give me 1 example, from any time in the history of F1 when a team has threatened to quit the sport if it doesn’t get its own way

          2. Sure, there are countless examples of this @the-edge Haas did it just last season to get the budget cap lowered. You think when a team boss publicly states something like “yeah, if this or that is (or isn’t) introduced, we have to evaluate our future in this sport” that doesn’t count? When Toto goes “well, we’re not sure if we’ll continue as a works team post 2021” right when there’s Concorde agreement being negotiated that’s not a thinly veiled message to FOM and FIA to make a favorable deal? Who are you kidding.

            Every team at one point or another does this, for good reason, F1 costs a truckload of money and they want to get the best out of it for them.

          3. Most teams dont threaten to quit F1 just because they have to *gasp* use third party engines!!

    2. Who exactly do they think they are? They had a short period of being dominant and then what?

      You could apply that statement to any team in the grid.

      1. Of course you could, but the point is they don’t all repeatedly threatened to quit if they don’t get their own way

        1. Let’s look at their actions instead of their words: two teams, one F1 circuit, their own driver development program and soon their own engine. They have more skin in the game than car brands like Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin or historic players like Williams.

          1. Good luck to them, so why repeatedly threaten to quit if they can’t have their own

            You ride out the storm and plan better for the future

            Not cry about it in the media

          2. @the-edge Sounds to me like you’re the one doing the crying.

          3. I don’t like the ‘quit’ threats either @the-edge, but most major teams have done that talking (not sure about McLaren though) and many other big spenders have actually done it (including Mercedes, and once again they seem on the way out).

            Red Bull is more dedicated to, and invested in, extreme sports including F1 than most (if not all) major car companies who spend some time in F1.

            I agree with @kingshark and others that Red Bull is a welcome part of F1 and heritage wise I’d even rate them 3rd behind Ferrari and McLaren.

          4. @coldfly

            I agree with @kingshark and others that Red Bull is a welcome part of F1 and heritage wise I’d even rate them 3rd behind Ferrari and McLaren.

            No they’d be well behind Merc in the heritage stakes. I can’t imagine a can of Redbull wining a Concours d’Elegance.

          5. @johnrkh
            Linking F1 heritage to a Concours d’Elegance is like claiming that Miss Universe deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
            She might play the violin, recite a poem, and even talk about world peace, but we all know she’s eventually chosen based on her swimwear.

          6. @coldfly Yes but it’s meticulously designed and hand crafted swim wear, not mass produced and served from a can :)

    3. It’s amazing. I remember the booing of Vettel because he won too much despite 2011 was the only season where RBR were dominant. And even then non-RBR cars still won 7/19 races in 2011.

      In Mercedes most competitive season 2018 non-Merc cars won 10/21. 2017 non-Merc won 8/20, 2019 non-Merc won 6/21, 2020 non-Merc won 4/17 (Sakhir and Monza were complete lotteries and Hamilton would have won if he didn’t make a rookie error at Monza).

      So the RBR in their most dominant season was similar to the dominance of the 2017 Merc which a lot of people consider to be competitive.

      And RBR were only dominant like that ONCE. Yet that was enough for people to roundly boo Vettel when he was on the podium. And don’t use multi-21 as an excuse because a year later Hamilton ignored a team order in Hungary when he was on a completely different strategy after crashing earlier in the race. He was roundly applauded for his champions mentality, while Vettel was roundly criticised for his champions mentality.

      I find it incredible that year after year the FIA went to extraordinary lengths to hobble RBR because of ONE dominant season (which was still as competitive as the 2017 season), while Mercedes are certainties to win an 8th title in a row this year with 4 of the most dominant seasons of all time occurring in the past 7 seasons. Even the “non-dominant” seasons were similar to the level of competitiveness in RBR most dominant season of 2011.

      1. The FIA spent years closing loopholes that Red Bull were using to cheat the system. Exhaust blowing, flexible wings, etc, etc. They do that with any team using technology that provides an advantage that is in the grey areas. The difference is Red Bull wouldn’t stop pushing the limits, see the issues with the fuel flow sensor readings that they tried to claim they should be treated differently to everyone else. Most of that was under the old guard too it’s worth noting.

        1. It wasn’t cheating. No more so than FRIC and DAS.

          1. I think you’ll find there was no accusation of cheating. They seemed to always comply with the regulations at least from a compliance with existing tests perspective. Red Bull refused to give up on the flexible wing advantages which is why the tests had to keep becoming more stringent. Same with exhaust blowing which is why we eventually had to start using these centrally mounted monstrosities to try and remove all blowing effect from the diffuser.

            Ultimately the FIA had to keep revising tests to ensure compliance with the regulations where as Red Bull just kept building cars to pass the tests rather than comply with the regulations themselves. Ultimately the FIA were just ensuring everyone complies to the same rules and not singling out one manufacturer. Worth noting they banned plenty of other teams advantages such as the F-Duct, DAS and FRIC. Potentially also whatever Ferrari’s patented “rocket fuel” technology was banned.

          2. @slowmo Whiting did instruct Red Bull that they had to change the design of the floor of their 2012 car, as they had openings in the floor in an area that they were not allowed to have an opening. If anything, the surprise was that the FIA allowed Red Bull to get away with those openings for several races, as quite a few technical forums had noted those openings and commented that the openings in the floor were illegal several races before the order came from Whiting. Horner did get rather agitated in public when he was being asked about the changes to the floor too, as Red Bull did win two races with that illegal floor fitted to their car.

            With regards to the flexing wings, there is in fact an argument that what Red Bull was doing was in fact breaking the regulations. Allowing the front wing to flex down in that manner does mean it was potentially breaking the regulations on the minimum height at which bodywork had to be above the reference plane, meaning that the car was operating in an illegal configuration when on the track.

            However, being able to accurately quantify that and explain how Red Bull were achieving that on track was basically not possible for the FIA to do – so, whilst the legality was debatable, Red Bull did partially rely on the the FIA being unable to conclusively prove what they were doing was illegal once the car was in motion.

  5. @keith Can I second what @macleod is saying, I assumed it was me (I’ve tried the site in three browsers and it still does the same thing). Reading articles (especially the beginning) is really tough, images, tags etc are all sort of broken. I think it started yesterday.

  6. RBR is the most important organisation in the sport after Ferrari. Much more important that Mercedes.

    Great organisation too constantly bringing in new drivers.

    Merc have had three drivers in the hybrid era, RBR have had 7.

    It’s a real meritocracy. The fairest team in all of the sport. Less politics, less BS. Horner and Verstappen direct and honest.

    I’m not sure I’d count Russell as a 4th driver for Merc in the hybrid era because he was just a substitute (darn good substitute was able to beat Bottas soundly within 48 hours of jumping into a car not set up for him in any way).

    1. ….are you saying Mercedes isn’t a meritocracy? Cos one of those 3 drivers won pretty much won six titles and one of said three won the other one. Even if most of that is the car (like pretty much the rest of F1) fact of the matter is 2 of those 3 drivers were good enough to win the world title and retain their championship year after year.

      1. Obviously it’s not a meritocracy. The substitute driver was quicker than Bottas despite no preparation yet Bottas some how retained his seat.

        Wouldn’t happen at RBR.

      2. He is only praising Red Bull because his favourite driver is there – he won’t care less about them if he left, and he would be praising Mercedes if he ended up there instead.

  7. Makes sense to me. RB has no business in F1 as a customer team. Not if you are serious about winning

    1. By that logic, all teams bar Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, Red Bull should just quit.

  8. @robbie

    Why are you making a personal attack against me? have I made any personal attacks at anyone?

    Can’t you have a grown-up conversation?

    If you have something worthwhile to say then please do say it, otherwise please keep your schoolyard comments to yourself

    1. Good point, @the-edge.


      @the-edge I’ll not apologize for my ‘personal attack’ when all it was was me pointing out what you are doing with your incessant rhetoric. Which is all you’ve been spewing. But good on you I guess to answer me back with an even more vehement ‘attack.’ Is that your version of taking the high road? I’m not offended btw but was limited on time when I fired off that one liner as an initial gut reaction to your post.

      Anyway, to start with RBR have made no such ‘threat’ as you have read into it, nor did they ever give F1 an ultimatum over the recent engine freeze. Perhaps you have a direct quote of them a actually stating said ultimatum? Rather I think you are just seeing red and going off on a tangent that is not sellable.

      Aside from the references I provide above, which took all of one minute and to which I’m sure I could delve much further, as could you by the way, and should have, there is the numerous times that the majority of teams tried to band together and threaten to leave F1 and form their own series. This type of stuff has been so common throughout F1’s history that it makes your ‘garbage,’ just to throw one of the terms you’ve used against RBR back at you, seem ‘childish, unprofessional, and just sounds out right silly,’ to quote you again.

      Please provide the quote where they say effectively ‘Engine freeze or we quit.’

      1. Meant to say note that the middle reference is an article from 2003. Then Renault appears again in 2015. As I say I spent all of one minute finding these. There are many many more.

      2. Is this clear enough…

        “ According to a report from Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, if Red Bull’s demand is not met, Helmut Marko would pull both of the energy drink’s teams out of F1, a drastic measure that would leave Grand Prix racing with just eight teams on the grid and a heavily dented image.”

        I have not included the original I am US article because I do not speak German, but F1 I is a very reputable Formula One website

        You are correct, I have Vigourously defended my original comment. I made a comment, people replied to me, I reply today. It’s called having a discussion

        What I have not done is made any personal insult or attacked anybody for making comments.

        I accept your apology for stating that I am the one crying, however I am not crying, I am simply making a statement of fact, as my quote above points out and stating that I find it unacceptable given the fact I find it highly unlikely RB would have actually quit

        And yes, I did attack you in my response as you attacked me. I am perfectly within my rights to defend myself and a personal attack

        1. *That original AMuS article, not US article (that’s spell checks fault 😂)

          1. @the-edge First off, I did not apologize for I feel there is nothing for which to apologize. Interesting though that you have read an apology into my response. You seem to enjoy reading into things what you want.

            Secondly, you have not made any statement of fact. You have cited an article that contains not one quote from RBR/Horner/Marko. This is an article from one week after Honda announced their departure. It might be a reputable website according to you, perhaps according to many, I don’t know, but the fact remains it is using verbiage such as ‘reportedly’ and ‘according to a report.’

            There is not a single quote in this article so I ask you again for the direct quote that has anyone from RBR literally giving F1 the ultimatum that you claim. This is important because you reluctantly admit that others have done the same as RBR but not with an ultimatum attached, which I think is likely highly debatable if we were to truly delve into all the things said over the years, but suffice it to say you need to provide the exact quote of their alleged ultimatum in order to support your argument. Otherwise it just sounds like rhetoric from someone who just doesn’t like the team and wants to read into it what he pleases.

  9. @coldfly

    Many people have claimed Mercedes are going to quit… however not once have Mercedes actually made that claim, or threatened it

    In fact the exact opposite is correct. Time and time again Mercedes have reiterated their commitment to the sport

    1. They did quit after 1955, @the-edge.
      They did consider quitting before the hybrid PU formula was introduced.
      Also Toto announced a few years ago in an Austrian Newspaper that they could quit if things did not move in the direction they wanted (I believe related to budget cap and PU rules).
      And don’t forget that they 2/3 left already.

      1. This. The Mercedes works team we know has only been around for two era’s of F1, the first was their initial build-up, the second era they’ve sweeped everything. Lets see how this conversation would’ve went if their hybrid era was all midfield performances like their 2009-2013 campaign.

        They also threatened to “evaluate” their F1 participation when the Concorde agreement was decided on. Again, a perfectly normal thing to do to protect their interests.

        1. @aiii every team is free to decide if the sport is somewhere where they want to operate

          That is entirely different from stating a specific demand must be met or they will quit, such a redbull did with the engine freeze

          Any other team faced with this situation would have got their head down and cracked in with business

          The only reason they didn’t want to return to Renault was because they want to hold their heads up high and not have to go crawling back

          Redbull have won races with a Renault Pu nearly every year they have run them since 2010. They were just as successful with Renault PUs in the hybrid era as they have been with Honda

          1. The only reason they didn’t want to return to Renault was because they want to hold their heads up high and not have to go crawling back

            @the-edge, with comments like this you merely show that you don’t understand the business of F1 and even less so Red Bull.
            They wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go back to Renault if that was their best solution. In this business nobody cares about previous ‘bridges’ if they can gain a split second.
            Red Bull knows that they need a bespoke PU solution to optimise their package, and I admire them to aim high.

            Mercedes did threaten to quit at least twice in the last decade(your honer I present the court link A and link B to be admitted as evidence), and it seems that in both instances they did get (initially) what they threatened to quit over.
            You know, a bit like Horner/Red Bull.

      2. Yes many teams have quit F1 but that is not really what I’m taking about

        I have no issue with teams leaving, that is a decision for them to make, be it financial or other

        The closest I am aware Merc have come to making a threat to quit is when they said liberty media must have a direction that keeps F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport and not turn it into a sideshow. Even then they never made any ultimatums or threats to quit if they didn’t get their own way. It was a sentiment shared by every F1 fan

        As I said before, if teams don’t want to be in F1 then they should leave like, I have no issue

        But to actually go to media and make statements saying if we don’t get this or that then we are leaving, like redbull have done many times is simply unacceptable

        1. They are not going to the media and making statements. The media is going to them and asking questions about their commitment to the sport.

          1. And that is a fair point to make

            Many times people are only responding to questions from the media

            But wouldn’t a better response of been to say ‘we will make a decision about the future of our teams when the time comes to make that decision and then let you know’?

            After all… I find it highly doubtful RB would have quit F1 if they were forced to run Renault PUs for a couple of year, or that they would have been any less competitive in the future

          2. @the-edge Now that to me is a more reasonable response than some of your others on this topic, imho of course. While sure they could have responded to media questions in the way you suggest, and that would have been ‘safe’ and diplomatic I suppose, I don’t mind hearing the truth about the matter. And let’s note again the direct quotes. At no point have they (Horner) said above anything about actually quitting nor is there a threat there. He hints at contracts and such (I’m assuming he means things such as them having just signed along with the other teams the new Concorde Agreement) as, what I read into it, blocks to quitting, at least not without massive penalties owed to F1, and the closest he comes to what you have been talking about today is that “the appetite would have been much diminished.” That in no way is saying ‘we would have quit.’

            Anyway no wonder they have gone the opposite direction with their huge investment, and actually started heading themselves towards independence. They I’m sure have not been happy with their situation since the hybrid era began, but were thrilled with their Honda marriage and wanted it to go on. Now it will, only perhaps in an even better way than had Honda stayed, as more than ever they see how crucial it is that they gain their independence come 2025, and have indeed put their money where their mouth is.

  10. @coldfly I fully accept Merc have left over the engine situation, but the difference is the didn’t stand and make quit threats if they didn’t get the rules changed to what they wanted them changed to

    Every team is allowed to leave F1 if it no longer suits them in some way. That is their decision. Making ultimatums however is completely different

    I also except Mercedes was the last to sign the Concorde agreement and would have left if they didn’t get the terms they wanted…. But let’s be specific about what those terms were… they wanted an equal share of the prize money instead of Ferrari & Redbull getting extra payments under the new deal. that is about being treated with respect, not demanding the rules be changed to suit them. You can not possibly compare the 2 situations

    As for the reason for wanting to keep Honda PUs, yes the reason stated was because they wanted control over the architecture… but the key word there is ‘wanted’. That’s great, then go and get what you want. Nobody was stopping them

    But why threaten to quit if the rules aren’t changed to allow you to get what you want and not have to spend the money to upgrade to compete?

    1. Mercedes set an ultimatum demanding a V6 hybrid engine (which they had been working on since 2007).

      1. Yeh, right!

        You just keep drinking that kool aid @Dean F…

        V6 in 2007 😄

        I suppose they sold the idea to Ferrari at the same time after all they had never heard of v engines or would have demanded them knowing how many IL 4 cylinder engines they use in those sports cars of theirs…

    2. (Mercedes) didn’t stand and make quit threats if they didn’t get the rules changed to what they wanted them changed to

      I strongly suggest you read the Mercedes Benz Board member quotes in the first link I shared above, @the-edge.
      Mercedes would have quit had F1 not moved the the modern hybrid PU’s.

      But for one reason or the other you call it ‘threat to leave’ when RBR does it, and an ‘decision to leave’ (if things don’t change) when Mercedes does it.
      You weren’t there and you don’t even know the words being used in those meetings, but it is clear enough that the message was the same.

      Maybe Mercedes didn’t even need to use as many words, as they proved in the past that the can and will leave whenever it pleases them (as opposed to RBR).
      But I still refer to them as World Champion rather than ‘quitters’ ;)

      1. @coldfly Which is why I have asked for the direct quotes of the alleged RBR quit ultimatum to F1 over the engine freeze matter. Seems in actuality they were far closer, as in, ready, willing, and able to bolster their outfit further, in a big way, than leaving. I think leaving would be their very very very last thing they would want to do. I suppose that played a hand in my initial short retort, for having already known the measures they have now taken post-freeze, it seemed quite moot to now tag ‘quitters’ or ‘ultimatum givers’ status to them.

        lol just a little side thought. What if RBR had actually threatened to quit ‘or else’ and that was known to the other teams. Would they have gotten the unanimity to the freeze that they did? Of course I mean not just ‘they’ as in RBR because unanimously all of F1 knows it benefits, but I wonder if a Ferrari or a Mercedes might have just taken the attitude, ‘you know what? Ok. See ya.’ What a treat for Mercedes and Ferrari to not have an RBR team to deal with, lol. And not have to freeze their pu’s. Of course I’m being tongue in cheek because even those two teams know what a devastating thing losing RBR’s 2 teams and 4 cars would be to F1 when it is trying to grow itself and attract new entrants.

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