Red Bull to use TAG-Heuer branded engines in 2016

2016 F1 season

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Red Bull’s engines will be branded by watch manufacturer TAG-Heuer in 2016.

The team will continue to use Renault power unit next year, but their car will be entered as the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12. Red Bull said the deal “represents a shift away from F1’s conventional supply systems”.

“Our shared values of innovation and a desire to stand out from the crowd make this one of the most exciting partnerships in F1,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“We are also pleased to see Renault confirm its long-term commitment to F1 and would like to thank them for their contribution to the team since 2007. Their technical partnership with Ilmor gives us confidence, and we look forward to the 2016 season.”

Along with the engine branding deal which is for next year, TAG-Heuer will also become Red Bull’s official timekeeper, official watch partner and team performance partner in a “multi-year partnership”.

TAG branding was previously seen on F1 engines when the company branded the Porsche turbo engines used by McLaren between 1983 and 1987. The highly successful partnership spanned two constructors’ championship and three drivers’ championship victories.

Red Bull hinted at the deal on Thursday:

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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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78 comments on “Red Bull to use TAG-Heuer branded engines in 2016”

  1. Don’t get this at all. TAG Heuer has nothing to do with TAG. No idea why they would want their watches and sunglasses associated with engines. Maybe just LVMH’s way of getting involved with F1 again, not been a sponsor for quite a while (apart from small sponsorship of McLaren, but this engine rebrand will surely cost a lot more).

    Article makes the mistake of assuming they’ll be called Red Bull-TAG, they’ll actually be called Red Bull-Tag Heuer, according to the press release.

    1. Very well said, I agree, but I “get it”. RBR gets a basic PU they are familiar with and already had submitted revisions for – which Renault ignored only to introduce their own revisions which were complete failures – and now have the freedom to upgrade and revise aforementioned power units as they (RBR) see fit. I suspect Nissan and other Renault partners wanted nothing to do with the sub-par Renault PU or were prevented from such by Renault itself. The added bonus for RBR is that Ilmor won’t be involved with their project which if you know F1 is a good thing since Ilmor has never, ever, ever made a decent F1 engine.

      Personally I don’t care what their PU is called. Compared to McDennis failing and failing and losing keys sponsors I think this a shrewd marketing decision for RBR, even if it leaves the fans scratching their heads a bit. Thankfully this is just a stop-gap until 2017 when RBR are free to use other engines which could still carry a VAG name.

      1. Yeah, Ilmor was so bad Mercedes decided to buy them.

        1. Merc bought Chevy’s 25% and got a 2 drivers titles (thanks to Mika and Ferrari failing), 1 constructors championship and countless engine failures in 17 years and had virtually no success in the 21st century until 2008’s championship which was luck as much as anything. If they weren’t so terrible we’d have def seen Kimi as a champ for McLaren and probably Alonso too.

          1. Apex Assassin, and how many of those failings can be attributed to McLaren itself? How many electronic and transmission failings – components designed and built in house by McLaren – robbed McLaren of success over the years?

          2. To which 17 years are you referring?

      2. I see some reports are stating RBR will be using the Ilmor developed factory works Renault engine.

        That seems to defeat the purpose of having a separate branded PU.

    2. Remember the Prost-Acer? I don’t see how the public in general can relate a PC manufacturer and an engine but still, it was there, it was advertising. Same goes for good ol’ Sauber-Petronas, though that one is more understandable. This was a common practice in the 90s, and I’m quite glad to see it back, TBH. I dunno, it somewhat masks the fact that there are so few engine makers these days.

  2. Erm, the Techniques d’Avant Garde Group and TAG Heuer are not the same company any more – the parent sold the watch company about 15 years ago.

    1. Correct, Techniques d’Avant Garde Group are mostly in the aeronautical industry now.

    2. That’s certainly a point Ron Dennis is very keen to stress but even so I think it’s fair to draw a comparison between this and the McLaren deal of the eighties.

      1. @keithcollantine But at least in their partnership in the 80s didn’t the TAG engineers at least develop the Porsche engine? This is just a name with no technical involvement at all.

        1. @tonyyeb We had Ford(-labelled) DFVs though.

          1. DFV is not the engine brand, it stands for ‘Double Four Valve’ but its a bit of a mouth full so shortened to DFV, it was designed and built by Cosworth (Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth I believ) but funded by Ford. It’s a bit different to the RedBull arrangement.

        2. I presume TAG-Heuer will be providing the wall clocks so the engineers known when it’s time for a tea-break.

          1. If the engine is a success we’ll know what it’s down to.

      2. He’ll have to assure the world of that, as TAG has 25% stake on McLaren group.

  3. Does this mean that RBR will continue to complain about Renault engines, or will they from now on complain about TAG?

    1. Does this mean that RBR will continue to complain about Renault engines, or will they from now on complain about TAG?

      At least Renault, having been proven pretty clueless about the hybrid engines, are now finally listening to Red Bull’s advice (in cooperating with Illien). It’s a pity it took them so long.

      1. I disagree, we have no idea as to how much power Renault could have supplied if Red Bull had left Renault to follow the path they wanted. Yes, the cars weren’t performing as Red Bull wanted, but that is about it.
        All we know is Red Bull showed very little gratitude towards Renault when they were winning, and only too happy to blame them when they weren’t. In this environment of disrespect, Red Bull went to Illmore and asked them to fix the engine, which isn’t how it works. The engines weren’t owned by Red Bull, they were leased, and Red Bull had no right to get Illmore involved. They did have the right to encourage liaison between the two companies, but that is about it. As far as I can tell, Illmore are competitors of Renault, so neither of the companies would actually want to tell the other any of their secrets, especially their 5 star rating secrets.
        The only justifiable reason I can see for the name “TAG Heuer” is Renault have supplied some or the parts, e.g. the block, crank shaft, etc, and that Illmore have supplied their own pistons and cylinder head. If that is the case, then Red Bull could argue the engine is their own, so they can call it anything they like.

    2. @maroonjack It’ll be a TAG when it wins and a Renault when it loses…

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        4th December 2015, 11:26

        I’d imagine one of the finer points of this deal is RB aren’t allowed to so much as breathe the R word next year

      2. When will it be an Illmor?

      3. Wouldn’t Renault had made sure in their 2016 contract with RBR that their name isn’t mentioned at all by any of the public figures of the team? If they didn’t put that in writing they’re fools IMO

      4. “So the clock stopped ticking again, please park the car”
        “Please turn off the clock, we have a battery issue”

    3. Does this mean that Renault engines continue to suck, now that they’re called TAG? ;)

      1. Yes, but now they’ll suck like clockwork.

        1. Nice :)

    4. @maroonjack There’s a belief, the unbranded engine deal they signed with Renault allows RB the freedom to pursue their own upgrades.

  4. Will Red Bull be doing their own development on the engines from 2016 as has been mooted or will they use the same spec Renault unit as the factory team?

    1. @geemac I believe they have to use the same specification under the rules but will wait to see the final technical regulations for next year. This area of the rules has been freed up to allow Ferrari to homologate more than one type of engine so perhaps it will be allowed. That said, there’s nothing in the announcement from Red Bull which indicates this is anything more than just a branding exercise.

      1. That’s what I thought, thanks @keithcollantine

      2. @keithcollantine I would be surprised if RBR wouldn’t try to bypass some rules by using these “NEW” TAG engines. Get some extra tokens etc.

        Craziest thing would be if RBR would develop Renault engines as “new” TAG engines and Renault F1 / Enstone team would continue using Mercedes power.

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    4th December 2015, 10:30

    Hahaha brilliant. Bernie must be going crazy.

    “Who needs a Rolex!? Get one from that company that can make F1 engines innit!”

  6. ColdFly F1 (@)
    4th December 2015, 10:46

    Weird branding; A Swiss watch company providing (the branding for) the Power Unit.

    I was especially concerned assuming premium Swiss Watchmakers primarily use automatic winding complications, and it would be weird to see people moving/shaking the car just to wind up the mainspring.

    1. or would they use a key to wind it up, and if they did it during pit stops would that be considered refuelling?

      1. Let’s have a cookoo pop out the air box every time it crosses the timing line.

    2. This swiss watch will have a record number of complications I believe.

  7. @coldfly
    Perhaps it will be solar powered next year ;)

    1. It would be pretty amazing if they made the engine work like many of the high up brances of watches do nowadays – they are powered by your hand movement (I think is something like a flywheel) as @coldfly mentions @melchior. I must say that I would be mightily impressed to see a car do that for a hybrid powertrain!

      1. Edward Cottrell
        4th December 2015, 14:17

        Williams developed a flywheel kers solution before the 2009 season. Flybird I believe it was called.

        1. That is true and until the end of the 2014 WEC season it was the hybrid system in the Audi LMP1.

        2. Maybe something along these lines would work (Audi dampers producing electricity) @melchior, @coldfly!

          1. or maybe the link here works better (that is a video embedded in a Czech news-site)

  8. Mario Illien is Swiss. The Tag Heuer brand is Swiss. Red Bull have now announced a partnership between them and Tag Heuer to run their engines branded up with the Tag Heuer name. Bernie and Todt have recently clawed back some power to govern the sport away from manufacturers.

    With a Tag branded engine, can RB now get around the FIA restriction when it comes to developing the same block in a different direction from the same manufacturer.. in this case Renault?

    It all seems too much of a coincidence and I fully expect to see Red Bull develop the Renault block in their own direction using the expertise of Illien.

    The “Swiss Engineering to close the gap next season” from Red Bull is not in relation to Tag Heuer in my view, but in relation to the Swiss born Illien.

  9. This is not the TAG of the old Porsche days. More curious is the conglomorate LVMH, owners of Tag Heuer (among other brands), still has a sponsorship deal with McLaren. It seems as though Tag Heuer wanted to increase their appeal to the younger market (especially given they’ve just announced an eye-wateringly priced smartwatch) yet the wider company may still be sticking with heritage – merely with champagne instead of swiss watches …

    The recent McLaren branded Tag Heuer watches haven’t been a patch on the old Schumacher Omegas. They’d even resorted to a blue/black homage to a Rolex BLNR which, given F1’s race weekend advertising, made me smile. Maybe they’ll come up with some better RBR-inspired designs … and I bet RBR feel like they’ve gone up in the F1 world – from Japanese quartz to Swiss mechanical!

  10. “represents a shift away from F1’s conventional supply systems”

    No it doesn’t. You just gave it a different name.

    Unless Renault will ship them to Tag, before they in turn send them to the team. That would be an unconventional supply system.

  11. I don’t get this re-branding. I suppose it’s in their right to do so when one buys a product, to name it like you want it to. Just as it is in my right when I decide to buy a TAG-Heuer watch, I’ll say to people: “Oh I know it says TAG on it, but it IS a Renault watch.” I mean, what’s the meaning behind this madness? No one on earth can make the link between a watch maker and an engine supplier. Isn’t there something in the rulebooks saying the official team title should be constructor-engine? As in the REAL name of your engine?

    1. Isn’t there something in the rulebooks saying the official team title should be constructor-engine? As in the REAL name of your engine?

      If that was the case, then back in the 80s it would have been McLaren-Porsche, but it was actually McLaren-TAG.

      To be honest, I think that naming scheme is merely convention anyway, and for advertising purposes.

  12. Is it just me or is the image at the top of a scale-model RBR car, and not the real thing??

    1. At first I thought “no way, this guy’s just silly” but after looking at the picture more closely, I totally see what you mean…

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        4th December 2015, 16:49

        It certainly looks like a scale model. @pukktpie. Must be due to the artificial lighting.

        The image is from the Yas Marina tyre test this week (link) and it is a real car.

    2. it’s the lens being used. Do a google search for Tilt-Shift Photography and you’ll see a lot more pictures like that

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        4th December 2015, 18:50


        Wow, I just ran a search and the pictures do look like models. How funny is that? I wonder why our brains perceive it that way.

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          4th December 2015, 19:45

          Wow that is weird.
          Good call @lancer033

  13. Pun throw down time…
    I’ll go first
    These power units might not sound that great especially the tag. It might have a nasty tick…

    1. knotan anji knee
      4th December 2015, 12:52

      Pretty sure this engine will know best when it’s time to stop.

    2. The Blade Runner (@)
      4th December 2015, 13:06

      Maybe they’ll be the ones to watch next year?

      I presume this isn’t a wind-up?

      A good decision by Red Bull? Only time will tell…

      (I’m here all week!)

  14. “Our shared values of innovation and a desire to stand out from the crowd make this one of the most exciting partnerships in F1,”

    Rough translation being…

    “We burnt so many bridges by being pretentious brats in 2015 that even our current engine supplier wouldn’t touch us unless we pretend it’s not theirs…”?

    1. @wonderbadger more like “We really want to be in F1 despite our supplier failing miserably over the last two years and still showing no signs of having an actual clue, so we’ll take what we get.” And after that “but at least they’re now finally following our advice in seeking external help”.

      1. Yes, I agree Renault haven’t done a great job with their engines over the last couple of seasons, but there are ways to manage a business relationship and ways not to, I think Red Bull could write the book on how not to.

        1. Well, it’s not like it cost them in the end. They’re paying more but if the cooperation with Illien bears fruit then they will gladly do so.

          1. Well, it’s not like it cost them in the end.

            They’re paying more

          2. The first one is figurative speech and is about performance.

            Anyway, I’m glad this engine deal wasn’t too expensive for Red Bull: they’re paying more for the engines but at least they secured a new sponsor. Not a big fan of the whole ‘Renault being payed twice’ affair, it feels like they are getting extra money because they have done such a poor job.

    2. Horner’s sentence is a load of hot air… right?

  15. uhmmm

    What do an Energy Drink and a Watch-maker have in common?… apparently an F1 Team

    …. strange world we re living in !

    1. Neither are fit for human oral consumption.

    2. Remember, we had Clothing Company – Clothing Line on the grid between 1998 and 2000 in the shape of Benetton – Playlife.

      1. oh… we had a wheels manufacturer too (Fondmetal)

  16. Does this mean that they have to keep it running overnight otherwise it won’t start in the morning?

    1. No that’s the Honda.

      1. It was a reference to the self-winding mechanism that watches use. Not quite a reliability issue

  17. Where does that lead Casio ? Will they stick with Red Bulll ?

    2 Competing products on the same car or through the Tokyo – Honda Connections is this a “Watch Exchange” between Dennis and Horner !!!!!

    1. Good point, id really like to know what this means for the Casio sponsorship.

  18. So this confirms it will be a Renault for RBR and a Ferrari for Toro Rosso it will be VERY interesting to see which of the two teams comes out on top next year.

    1. For sure, Toro Roso was remarkably good this year.. And if next year they overtake RBR.. Then we know it was the engine…

  19. We’ll see TAG troubles for RBR next year then.

    Then again regarding Renault PU.. They developed best they can… Why should revisions bring improvements by default.. It is by no mean great improvement.. Likewise Merc powerupgrade was very marginal…but they did a great job from the start.

    Likeley design is poor from start. Now whatever they try to fix gives limited improvements.

    McHonda has biggest scope for improvements.. Kinda like Ferrari did with this year. They replaced their size 0 turbo and presto… Italian stalions were unleashed.

    Renault would need a proper rework. And who knows wFo4 how to get sharp legendary armorhat M’rcSedes will do by then…

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