Red Bull Powertrains Limited rises from the (soon to be) ashes of the Honda F1 power unit program.
While Honda itself may bid sayonara to Formula 1 at the end of this year, it looks like their power units are still set to stay in Formula 1 for a couple of years more, albeit under the Red Bull name moving forward.
That is because following on from news last Friday with regards to the decision by the FIA to freeze engine development till the start of the 2025 season, Red Bull Racing has recently cut a deal with Honda that enables them, along with its sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri, to continue with using the Japanese automaker’s hybrid power units all the way till the next generation engine regulations come into effect in 2025.
Nevertheless, as part of the deal, these power units will henceforth be known as Red Bull. Something that does make quite a lot of sense now, as unlike what Red Bull did in the past by simply rebranding its previous Renault engines as TAG-Heuer, these future Honda-based powertrains will henceforth be operated on in-house by the racing team through their newly formed company that is named Red Bull Powertrains Limited.
In fact, with the establishment of Red Bull Powertrains Limited, this means that the four-time constructors championship winning team will soon rise from the ranks of a customer team to being a works team. Becoming the fourth such team on the Formula 1 grid, alongside the likes Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes.
Hearing Red Bull Racing team principle Christian Horner put it, this deal that was signed with Honda has allowed the team to build on a strong foundation in regards to its powertrain package. This is especially considering that the new company will inherit the vast majority of Honda Racing Development UK, the Japanese automaker’s F1 power unit development arm.
Nevertheless, as of right now, this new company is on a recruitment drive to ramp up the operational capacity for this massive undertaking. Additionally, the team is reportedly on the search for an individual to head up this new division of the Red Bull Racing empire.
With regards for the future plans for the new in-house powertrain operations, Horner has reportedly commented that they believe to have the independence to go it alone. Then again, it was also reported that the team will still be interested in seriously considering a partnership if an ‘exciting partner’ comes along in the future.
Speaking of partners and going back to its current powertrain partner for the moment, Honda has decided to abruptly call time on its Formula 1 participation mainly due to the need to divert more of the firm’s resources into zero-emissions technology, like fuel cells and EV powertrains. This is such that the Japanese automaker will be able to achieve its environmental goal of being carbon neutral by the year 2050.
PRESS RELEASE: 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.
Red Bull Motorsport Advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, 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. The establishment of Red Bull Powertrains Limited is a bold move by the team 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.”
Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal, added: “This agreement represents a significant step for the team 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. 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.”