Why Red Bull believe in Honda: Exclusive interview with Christian Horner

2019 F1 season

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After the first 10 races of 2018, Red Bull has made its best start to a Formula 1 championship since the V6 hybrid turbo era began. The Renault-powered team has won three times and is on the fringes of the championship fight.

So why have they now chosen to end their relationship with Renault, which has lasted 12 years and included and multiple championship successes? And why put their faith in Honda, which was ditched by McLaren less than a year ago and has still not powered a single podium finisher since it returned to the sport in 2015?

Red Bull has been able to keep a close eye on Honda’s progress as its junior team Toro Rosso picked up McLaren’s discarded engine deal. Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview, Horner explained how the gains Honda has made since splitting from McLaren motivated Red Bull’s decision to use its power unit.

“It puts Red Bull in a position where both of its teams share the same power unit with the full focus of an OEM [original equipment manufacturer],” he told RaceFans. “With the resource and facilities and investment Honda have made and the progress they have made – particularly in the last six months – for us it was a particularly straightforward decision.”

Not to mention the fact ending its Renault customer engine deal will save Red Bull millions. However Horner said the team’s priority is improving its competitiveness.

“The agreements that we have with Honda are very much focused on performance and the decision behind the change was driven by engineering reasons opposed to fiscal gain.”

Since it arrived in Formula 1 in 2005, Red Bull has always been an engine customer. It had three different suppliers in its first three seasons – Cosworth, Ferrari and Renault – but has remained with the latter ever since.

Christian Horner, Cyril, Abitboul, 2018
After 12 years, Red Bull and Renault are splitting
After Renault withdrew its previous factory F1 programme at the end of 2009, Red Bull assumed greater importance to the manufacturer. It delivered four consecutive constructors’ titles, aided in part by a close collaboration with Renault and joint development of technologies such as exhaust-blown diffusers during the V8 engine era.

But the French manufacturer is yet to master the V6 hybrid turbo regulations as successfully as Mercedes or Ferrari have. And its decision to revive its factory team programme in 2016 meant the writing was on the wall for Red Bull.

“Obviously Renault now having their own works team, the customer-supplier relationship has only become more exaggerated over the last couple of seasons,” said Horner. In contrast, “Honda have the strength and depth of resource, the desire and of course we will be their exclusive focus and attention.”

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Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz is fully behind the deal. “He believes in the Honda programme. He is optimistic about the potential. He sees the benefit to the team of having the full focus of a powerful manufacturer behind it which is the first time in our history.”

The final point is significant and will give Red Bull’s rivals pause for thought. They have already won three races this year with customer Renaults. Honda’s power unit appears to be on a par with it, and Red Bull expects its closer relationship with its new supplier will allow it to make gains in the critical area of chassis and engine integration.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2018
Three wins so far this year isn’t enough for Red Bull
Modern F1 power units are extraordinarily complicated. Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault build their own engines and chassis, which means they can tailor one to the other and vice-versa.

Customers such as Force India and Sauber have to make do with what they are given and – crucially – when they get it. The manufacturer teams can afford to finalise their power unit specifications at the last possible moment when designing their cars. While their customers receive some details and specifications in advance, compromises inevitably have to be made.

This is where Red Bull stands to gain. “It provides us the opportunity to work very closely with an engine partner and be able to have an input at an early stage into the integration between the chassis and power unit rather than accommodating what is effectively defined by another team,” confirms Horner.

Toro Rosso also stands to benefit as it knows well in advance of next season it will use the same engine brand and specification as its elder sibling. This will allow the two to collaborate more closely: they will have “as much synergy as possible” according to Horner.

“Toro Rosso will use a complete Red Bull Technology rear end next year,” he confirms. “Having a common power supplier only makes that easier.”

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The only remaining uncertainty is who will drive the two Red Bull-Honda RB15s. One will certainly be occupied by Max Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2018
Ricciardo is weighing his options
But is Daniel Ricciardo sufficiently convinced by the arguments Horner has laid out – and/or sufficiently bereft of alternatives – to commit his future to the new project?

“We’re moving in the right direction with Daniel,” says Horner. “I’ve stated from the outset that our desire and intention is to retain him.

“Now that the engine agreements are concluded, he has all the facts of how things are looking technically and certainly in the run-up to the summer break we should hopefully conclude where we are with Daniel.”

With such a huge change coming on the technical side, having continuity in the driver line-up and retaining a driver with Ricciardo’s ability and excellent technical feedback has an obvious attraction for the team. But does Ricciardo believe in Honda as much as they do?

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2018 F1 season

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44 comments on “Why Red Bull believe in Honda: Exclusive interview with Christian Horner”

  1. Not a very insightful exclusive :( Still a good opportunity to bring up the topic again. You’d be brave to bet either way Red Bulls performance next year I reckon. They were similarly hopeful when Renault stopped supplying Lotus and they became the sole Renault customer, but we all know how that ended up. It doesn’t really put much stock in Horner’s word this time around.

    As for Ricciardo, it’s not as if he has much choice… Red Bull are no doubt eager to keep him as their unofficial number two because of course they don’t have number two drivers. But it’s Vettel Webber all over again in pretty much every way, right down to what was it the other week, DRS failure? Hadn’t pulled that cat out of the bag in a while.

    1. Can’t go along with your conspiracy theory, and if you believe that then it is funny you are saying DR has no choice but to stay. I would think if you were correct that they’ll even mess with his DRS to aid MV, then DR’s choice would be clear…anywhere but RBR. But I guess for you Renault post-Lotus equals Honda-RBR and SV-MW equals MV-DR, like it’s written in stone and the scenarios are identical and time stands still. Sad.

      1. You can call it sad all you want but it’s just one point of view. I’ve opined before that I believe Honda-RBR can be very successful and in no way did I say that they wouldn’t, just that Horner has said pretty much this same thing before…

        As for the Ricciardo Webber conspiracy, well. His book did say a lot and all the way along Red Bull were saying they both had equal chances to win. It really is hard to believe them on the whole saying the same things again now.

        1. @skipgamer I don’t see Red bull letting the 2010 WDC be ALO WEB VET after Brazil 2010 only to…foresee that pitting WEB early and ALO being stuck behind PET was going o happen though though

        2. @skipgamer I’m not going to just take Webber’s one sided view as gospel as to how it was for him and it certainly has nothing to do with how it is now at RBR. So your suggestion of them playing games with DR’s drs is ridiculous. But let’s also note the difference in scenarios from then to now. Back then SV was fighting for WDC’s and winning them, and the team winning WCCs. Right now they are sitting alone in third. Do you really think they can afford to sabotage one driver over another when both drivers need to be progressing the car and getting it back to being a Championships car? And that they’d sacrifice the driver that has more points? When they have indicated they’d like to retain him? You’d think they could get a lot cheaper puppet if that was the case.

          1. You’d think they could get a lot cheaper puppet if that was the case.

            They can not get a cheaper ‘puppet’ with anywhere near the skill Ricciardo has, he is easily in the top 5 drivers currently.
            I believe the Merc/Ferrari do not want Ricciardo at this time as they each have a very good championship winning driver and a compliant and fast enough number two. So they have no intention of rocking the boat at this point in time.
            Ricciardo would definitely embarrass Vettel or Hamilton in an equal car. As for equal treatment of drivers in RB. There was definitely something very unequal in British GP when RB changed Ricciardos race strategy on the fly without his prior knowledge. When it was obvious he was catching and would probably pass Verstasppen.
            Ricciardo was the faster driver and is ahead in the championship. All things being equal he should be given the priority over Verstappen, but he wasn’t. When Ricciardo questioned the decision he was told not to go there. That shows they are building the team around Verstappen as they have said publicly more than once.
            I think Ricciardo would do no worse if he moved to Renualt. They may not pay what he wants but he would be treated with more respect and be given the opportunity to win a WDC in the next two or three yrs. Honda in my opinion is a bigger gamble and RD has form.

          2. @johnrkh So just to be clear I do not think of DR as a puppet, Tristan does, and my assertion with him was simply that if indeed DR is only a number two, then they don’t need to retain him with a fresh contract for much more money. They could just hire a relative rookie and pay him much less if it is all about Max. Yet here they are trying to retain him. He is obviously not a puppet.

            Your assertion that DR would ‘definitely’ embarrass LH or SV is pure speculation on your part from an obvious fan.

            Your assertion that they did anything to harm DR’s chances is also just that of a fan defending his driver, because their split strategy at Silverstone has been explained and makes perfect sense as they reacted to other things going on as they came up during the race, namely Kimi’s pit.

            DR was not the fastest driver nor do they need to favour him when they are not fighting for the Championships nor when Max outqualifies him the majority of the time. Lol but to you ‘all things being equal’ they should give priority to DR. That is equal how? Max has been the one scoring the majority of the points lately, and outqualifies DR the majority of the time, and therefore has been leading him in races the majority of the time.

            So if you take off your rose tinted glasses for a second ask yourself why they would take away from Max to favour DR who hasn’t been earning his track position of late. You’d go ballistic if DR was out qualifying Max and yet Max was given favours to get him ahead in the race, yet you expect that for DR.

            Hey I get supporting one’s driver, but let’s start with seeing if DR can do something about Max on Saturdays, and then can lead a more clean running Max through the races and finish ahead like he was doing when Max was handing him positions. Your DR-should-have-priority stance would stand up better if DR was actually earning that lately, but then RBR would have to want to favour one driver over the other and there is no indication that is going on.

          3. Ha my DR ? I don’t think so, and the fact you constantly ignore that he is beating Verstappen and has so in the previous two yrs grates with you a bit I’d’ say by the tone of your reply. As I and others have said many times and the Verstappen fans (you?) refuse to hear, is being quick over a single lap on Saturday does not win a WDC. Also Ricciardo has had many more fasted laps during the race this yr than Verstappen. and far fewer ‘racing incidents’
            I’ll say to you what I’ve said to a few others. What will your excuse be if Ricciardo beats Vertappen again this year?
            Anyway we’ll see in a couple of months, take it easy mate :))

          4. @johnrkh It is simply not a ‘fact’ that I ‘constantly ignore’ anything to do with Max and DR. Last year DR undeniably ‘beat’ Max in points, and in points only. That was due to the lottery that became the reliability game at RBR, and when Max had unreliability DR benefitted more from that than the other way around when DR had unreliability, because Max was usually ahead of DR when his unreliability occurred. Max doubled DR in qualifying ahead, lead DR for double the laps throughout the season, and finished ahead of DR 5-2 of the seven (only) times when they both finished. If you want to say that the only thing that matters in the end is the points, that’s fine, but it is folly to not look at the reasons for the points. Also, it is undeniable that if one wants to beat one’s teammate, and ultimately win races and the Championship, one does not usually do that by being outqualified and out lead in race laps by double the number of times, and by finishing behind the majority of the time.

            Of course this season Max went through a rough patch…we all saw it and don’t need to rehash it. He undeniably made mistakes and cost himself and the team a lot of points, for the first half of the races so far. Since then Max has turned it around and again if it weren’t for his car failing him in the last race he would have been virtually tied with DR in points if not ahead (can’t quite recall how it was going to add up if Max had finished), is continuing to dominate him in quali, and I don’t know what the numbers are for laps ahead or whatever else, but suffice it to say there is no lack of pace again from Max who has shown exactly what he can do when he keeps it clean.

            As you say let’s see come the end of the season where they stand but the trend certainly has been in the last 5 races that Max has outstripped DR on average, and shown that had he not had such a ragged start to the season he’d have DR completely in his dust by now.

            Of course being quick on Saturday does not win one Championships, but it sure helps when passing and even following is so difficult these days. It’s a start to at least beating one’s teammate. Fastest laps are not an indication of anything either. If the trend continues, I will not have ‘excuses’ if DR outpoints Max, I think I will only have one reason and that will be unreliability. As it has been going, when Max keeps it clean he has dominated DR. The only think that will stop that is more unreliability for Max while once again leading DR in a race, which will benefit DR as long as his car remains healthy.

            So just note, I have only spelled out undeniable facts here…reasons, not excuses. There is nothing I ‘ignore’ nothing I ‘refuse to hear’ and nothing I make ‘excuses’ for. That’s just your choice of wording to try to defend DR. I don’t throw out ‘definites’ such as DR would embarrass LH and SV, and you shouldn’t either when DR is not even embarrassing MV, MV only embarrassing himself sometimes. MV with already 4 wins at 20 years of age to DR’s 6 at 29.

  2. But is Daniel Ricciardo sufficiently convinced by the arguments Horner has laid out – and/or sufficiently bereft of alternatives – to commit his future to the new project?

    Yeah, I think it’s the lack of alternatives that will tip the scales. Neither Mercedes nor Ferrari seem too keen on hiring a driver who could immediately pose a lasting threat to their current leading drivers. And even if Red Bull does take a nosedive with Honda hardware (as for ” Honda’s power unit appears to be on a par with it” – that’s according to Horner, and Horner only. The comparison between McLaren’s and Toro Rosso’s season-to-season form swings doesn’t back up his claim in the slightest …), there is no serious challenger in sight who could become the third team in Formula 1.0. Renault and McLaren look increasingly likely to remain in Formula 1.5, and they’re the midfielders with the greatest potential for growth. They might get overtaken by Haas or Force India if they get it wrong over the winter, but no one is seriosuly expecting them to get in the mix at the front. Therefore, even if Red Bull lose the same big chunk of competitivity as Toro Rosso did, they’re still likely to stay third.
    This leaves Ricciardo with the choice between rage-quitting and hoping to achieve a reverse Alonso, or grudgingly staying with Red Bull.

    1. Comparing STR and McLaren´s season isn’t either a great indicative of performance for the Honda engine, there is much more to it than just the engine, and in the other departments, at least on paper, McLaren should be much better than STR.

      It is true however, that there is only Horner that both engines are on par (at leas in performance), but is there much people around that could have access to that information?

      Regardless, it always felt to me that it was the logical decision to make, you either win or die trying, Renault hasn’t been going anywhere with its PU, the performance boost promises have been just that, they can see at least in Honda a steep developing curve that might need some help to get going, the kind of help RBR and STR might be able to provide.

      If they fail, well as they say in football, to lose by 1 or 100 it is the same. If they win they will have the glory that they have been reaching for, with the added benefit of slapping McLaren in the face

      1. @johnmilk

        Comparing STR and McLaren´s season isn’t either a great indicative of performance for the Honda engine, there is much more to it than just the engine, and in the other departments, at least on paper, McLaren should be much better than STR.

        The thing is, I’m not just looking at the points standings and saying “Boy, McLaren sure look a lot more competitive than Toro Rosso”. Instead, I’ve looked at some key stats from both teams, and how they evolved between 2017 and 2018. This is the result. No matter from which angle you look at it, McLaren made a massive jump ahead with a last-minute change from Honda to Renault power, and a slowly shrinking budget. The odds would’ve been stacked against them if the engines were truly interchangeable. But it looks as though the Renault PU offered enough of an advantage for McLaren to overcome the disadvantage of a late switch and a compromised chassis development with ease.
        Conversely, Toro Rosso took a nosedive. Yes, they’ve had a change in their driver line-up. But they’re even trailing behind Kvyat’s level of performance from last season.
        These are the hard facts, and as I said, there’s much more to it than just realising that McLaren are performing better than Toro Rosso in 2018. Essentially, McLaren’s form can be described as a big upward arrow, and Toro Rosso’s as a big downward arrow, the most obvious variable being the change of the respective powertrain. A satisfying “Yeah, but” should offer a good explanation for both of these developments, because as it stands, the most plausible explanation for both observations, the one that is based on the fewest unverifiable assumptions, would be a noticeable performance advantage of the Renault PU over the Honda PU.

        It is true however, that there is only Horner that both engines are on par (at leas in performance), but is there much people around that could have access to that information?

        There are plenty, but very few are interested in commenting on that subject. The FIA got in the mix last year and published numbers that didn’t outright contradict the Red Bull narrative that Renault isn’t on par with Mercedes or Ferrari, but that were entirely inconsistent with Red Bull’s claims that the only thing stopping them from walking over the championship were the engines. According to the FIA, Renault’s power deficit explained less than half of Red Bull’s lap time disadvantage. However, Honda’s lagging behind was more or less confirmed.
        There, it’s been stated. No one’s really interested in stating that over and over again, as that would be beating a dead horse. Horner and his co-workers, however, do have an interest in repeating the same narrative over and over again, even if it isn’t too faithful to the facts. So they’re telling variations of the same story weekend after weekend, garnished with spicy details (“I was losing ground to the Ferrari even though I had DRS open and he hadn’t”) that wouldn’t perform too well in a fact check. But that’s not the point, the point is drowning out other viewpoints through sheer repetition, and establishing Red Bull’s own viewpoint as a universally accepted fact, by turning it into background noise.

        I think your next quote is pretty much spot on:

        Regardless, it always felt to me that it was the logical decision to make, you either win or die trying

        Red Bull’s narrative of Renault being terrible and Honda being on the same level doesn’t have to be true (and I’m convinced it isn’t). However, they think they are in a situation where championships aren’t coming their way. Therefore, they’re going for a risky, long-term strategy that shuffles the deck and gives them a small chance of coming out on top.
        That’s basically what Alonso did in 2014. Ferrari were close to the top, but failed to deliver the promised improvements. So he gambled on McLaren, who he thought had the potential for massive improvements. We all know how this is working out. But the mediatic spin in these very similar stories is extremely dissimilar. And that’s what’s bewildering me.

        If they win they will have the glory that they have been reaching for, with the added benefit of slapping McLaren in the face

        I understand this is something you’re really keen on, but in all honesty: Is that a motivation that makes sense from Red Bull’s perspective? I don’t think so.
        Also, I don’t really get why you appear to be so hell-bent on proving Alonso (and by extension McLaren) are the worst people ever. Yeah, they’ve been annoying with their constant over-promising and under-delivering. But they’re still years away from reaching Red Bull-levels of annoyance, in my opinion.

        1. Nice reply, But there is one little point Horner said they were impressed with the engine they got from honda at Canada compaired with the Renault at the same time. They see just more possibilties with Honda.

          1. @macleod
            That doesn’t contradict anything I’ve said, does it?

          2. @nase, no it doesn’t contradict with anything you said, but it could mean that your (good!) research is outdated.

          3. @macleod, the thing is, we went from Galsy singing the praises of that power unit in Canada to then blaming it for costing them nearly a second on the straights to their rivals in Silverstone just a few races later – there’s been a quite marked change in tone in the past few weeks in the comments that the Red Bull camp have been making.

        2. fair comment @nase. Let me add however that in no way I think the McLaren wasn’t being held by Honda in the last few years, and that Renault was one of the factors that helped scored the points that they have this year. It is also undeniable that Honda made some steps forwards compared to last season, in fairness that wasn’t hard, but still.

          Also by saying that Horner is in the best position to give a comparison of the two engines, does not mean, or I didn’t want to say that his sentence is 100% true. However he has updated data on the two PUs, and certainly RBR have promising numbers from Honda that helped them with their decision, so maybe it might not be on par but it isn’t that far away from it, otherwise the switch would be suicide. The comparison made by the FIA might not be relevant today, it feels to me that Mercedes and Ferrari have unlocked an extra bit of performance out of their engines, while Renault fell behind a little (or wasn’t as aggressive in the development if you prefer). Still even if we take that info, I’m sure Honda have closed the gap, even if it is just a little

          Therefore, they’re going for a risky, long-term strategy that shuffles the deck and gives them a small chance of coming out on top.

          This is a bit of an exaggeration, they didn’t signed for a long term strategy, it is just two years, and they have more or less the same chances of coming out on top as today. They might be using a PU that most likely will be the worst on the grid, but they will have the integration benefits of working with a partner that will make them number 1 priority (which we are all unsure of the value of, but it does seem relevant in this era)

          I understand this is something you’re really keen on, but in all honesty: Is that a motivation that makes sense from Red Bull’s perspective? I don’t think so.
          Also, I don’t really get why you appear to be so hell-bent on proving Alonso (and by extension McLaren) are the worst people ever. Yeah, they’ve been annoying with their constant over-promising and under-delivering. But they’re still years away from reaching Red Bull-levels of annoyance, in my opinion.

          A few things on these, even if I were to find McLaren annoying, which I don’t, one does not disprove the other, they could well be both annoying.

          Secondly, and this surely comes from the last part of my sentence, which in retrospective using a literally translation of a common expression in my native language does sound in English a bit over the top. Regardless I do think any team would find motivation beating another at the same “game”, that is just how competitive individuals work. If you don’t agree, maybe we see the sport in a different perspective.

          Finally it is not my goal, never want it to be and never wanted to prove anything about McLaren or Alonso, the comments that I make regarding them are simply my interpretation of the news coming from Woking, and the weird (to me) relationship that McLaren and Alonso have, which does not qualify them as the worst people ever, it does sparkle some curiosity in me at how those synergies work and some of the comments made by the senior staff are just pure fuel waiting to be light up. But I assume that you are basing this on other comments of mine (since you are bringing Alonso into to the discussion for some reason), which if you go back to (I wouldn’t, pretty much will be pointless anyway) refer to a specific topic being mentioned in the round-up or a McLaren related topic where I base my argument on the exposed information, since McLaren hasn’t been doing any wonders lately and does make some questionable decisions it is a little bit hard to say something good about them. I just have my opinion on things, as a random anonymous internet person, and it is not my objective to prove anything or make others change their minds about a specific subject or make them agree with me, unfortunatly that is a power I don’t have, useful though. You would also find that most are sarcasm or bad yokes

          1. @nase, Your piece was great i just added some extra info which i missed.

            @anon, Your right but at the same time the RB drivers were also complaining about the power difference.

    2. You had laid many reasons that there’s a very big performance gap between Honda and Renault, but you insist Red Bull would still be the third best team with poor engine… It’s like saying Red Bull is the best F1 team ever…

      1. @ruliemaulana
        Read again. I’m not insisting they will, but I think it’s likely? Why? Just look at the gap between 6th and 7th in an uninterrupted race. It’s huge.
        Also, I’m not saying there’s “a very big performance gap” between Renault and Honda. I’m saying there’s a noticeable, undeniable one. A few tenths of a second per lap maybe, which can make a huge difference for a midfield team.
        However, the size of the gap between Renault and Honda (on the one hand) and the top three teams and the midfield (on the other hand) are different kinds of “big”. The first “big” (gap between the engines) is a matter of a few tenths, the other “big” (between 6th and 7th place) is a second per lap on most tracks, sometimes even 2 seconds (see last weekend).
        If we substract a few tenths due to a less powerful engine from a gap of 1-2 seconds, the prediction isn’t too difficult: The advantage should be enough to stay ahead.

        Now, does that necessarily mean that “Red Bull is the best F1 team ever”. Well, no.
        I mean, there are people who believe exactly that. But I personally remain unconvinced.
        Red Bull are usually around a second behind in qualifying, and 0.5-1 second behind in the races. According to the FIA’s figures from last year, about 3 to 4 tenths of that can be explained with their power deficit. That leaves a few tenths for which Renault probably isn’t to blame.
        So, no: My reasoning and your conclusion aren’t necessarily logically connected.

      2. Redbull was the next best team after Mercedes in ’14, without Redbull, Renault and Honda will look no different.

        Without Redbull everyone will believe the Renault engine isn’t a race winning engine.

  3. That’s a good hashtag for Red Bull: #BelieveInHonda

    1. 2021: The Power of Dreams?

      1. 2014-2018: Dreams of power

  4. McLaren is in the same situation After losing Mercedes as was when Williams lost manufacturer status from Renault, the patern is the same, we Know how it ended with Williams , and I think sadly it will stay as it is, all is left from McLaren is its name, and all that is keeping them from beeing dead last is their extra funds they recieve form their sportscar brand, if it wasnt for that I think now their financial situation would be the same as Williams. STR now is like it suposed to be in the standings, and McL is in the same position as Last Year bar some lucky points in the start of the season. Gasly got a 4place, if the engine was fully integrated in a RBR chassis it would be a Win Contender!!

    1. rosterio, no, actually, there are a number of errors in your post.

      When you say that McLaren is “is in the same position as Last Year bar some lucky points in the start of the season”, that is wrong. At this point in the 2017 season, McLaren had only had one points finish – a single 9th place in Baku – and were dead last in the championship, along with six retirements and two failures to start due to mechanical issues.

      By contrast, McLaren are now 7th in the championship after scoring in seven of the opening races, three of which saw them score points with both cars, putting them in a significantly better position in the championship than they were at this point in the 2017 season.

      As for STR, it is more accurate to say that they are the ones that benefited from “some lucky points in the start of the season”. As things stand, they have only achieved three points finishes, down from six in 2017, and nearly two thirds of their current haul of 19 points comes from that single 4th place finish that Gasly took in Bahrain.

      If you run a direct comparison between the two best drivers in those teams – Sainz Jr in 2017 and Gasly this year – Gasly’s average finishing position, stripping out what looks like a fluke 4th place in Bahrain, is 12.3, down 2.5 places from the average of 9.8 for Sainz Jr in 2017.

      In terms of championship position, Toro Rosso are currently lower than usual – 8th is their worst position since 2013, and if they slip to 9th – quite possible with Sauber being increasingly competitive and only a few points behind – that would be their worst finish since 2012.

      Now, of course there are a number of factors – Gasly being less experienced than Sainz Jr was (to some extent, Kvyat and Hartley are kind of in the same position) being a notable factor – but, overall, nase is right to note further up this thread that Toro Rosso’s performance has generally been weaker than it was in 2017.

      Yes, Gasly did secure that 4th place in Bahrain, but increasingly that performance looks like it was a freak result – Gasly hasn’t been that competitive again this season, and the only other time he has made it into the top 10 in qualifying was in Monaco (as opposed to six top 10 starts for Toro Rosso by this time last year).

      Of course, it is fair to say that McLaren have not been fantastic either ever since they’ve switched, not to mention the struggles they’ve had, but on the other hand they are still scoring points more frequently than they ever managed under Honda at a comparable point in the season. Whilst still some way short of what they promised, their current performance is still better than it was under Honda, whilst conversely Toro Rosso’s performance is worse than it was under Renault.

      At best, even with better optimisation of their engine package in their chassis, it looks more like Honda is going to be a sideways move for Red Bull, at least in the short term, rather than that much of an improvement – the main benefit is probably not going to be the engine itself, but probably more likely to be the additional funding that would be freed up for Red Bull to plough into chassis development.

      1. Gasly isn’t close to Sainz performance, I don’t believe he isn’t even as fast as Kvyat. The major difference for Toro Rosso is their drivers, the engine alone isn’t the main or only reason for their bad results.

  5. ”After Renault withdrew its previous factory F1 programme at the end of 2009”
    – That happened at the end of the following season, though, didn’t it? Renault still had their own team in 2010; then it became Lotus for the following five seasons before becoming the Renault factory outfit again for 2016.

    1. @jerejj

      That happened at the end of the following season, though, didn’t it? Renault still had their own team in 2010

      In name only:

      Renault had sold Gerard Lopez and his Genii Capital investment company a 75% majority shareholding, in order to secure the teams future. The team continued to operate under the Renault name and the engine department remained under full Renault ownership.


      1. The Renault name was kept for a year due to the intricacies and financial implications of name changes, just as Sauber continued to be known as BMW.Sauber in 2010 despite having Ferrari engines – as I’ve said numerous times before in this forum.

  6. All of that lenghty explanation can be summed up in just five words:
    “b’coz they don’t have a choice” (☞゚∀゚)☞

  7. Toro Rosso will use a complete Red Bull Technology rear end next year

    I thought Toro Rosso had their own independent design team because of fears of collaboration between them and RBR.

    1. The regulations require that teams own the intellectual rights to the so-called ‘listed parts’ and others can be sourced elsewhere. A few teams source complete rear ends under these regulations, including Haas and Force India. I published the listed parts at the end of this feature: https://www.racefans.net/2018/04/04/the-brawn-ultimatum-why-f1s-future-hangs-on-fridays-crunch-meeting/

  8. Bernie's Miniature Grandpa
    16th July 2018, 18:36

    I wonder how long it’ll take before Honda decides it’s had enough of being thrown under a bus every time Red Bull doesn’t win and getting none of the credit when it does and walks away, leaving Red Bull with a big empty hole in the back of the car and blaming everyone else in the paddock for its own inability to stay on speaking terms with its engine suppliers.

    1. I hazard a guess they learned something?

    2. Ok now let’s see.

      If you were a team principal and your engine manufacturer delivered you a worse engine than the previous years disaster and then proceeded to spend ZERO tokens on development of that engine “because it needed to decide whether or not it wanted to remain in F1” you’d be OK with that.

      They did what any customer would do.

      Their frustration IMO wasn’t that the PU was underpowered, it was because there was no effort made to reverse that and to a degree still isn’t as much as the other three manufacturers. That’s one of their reasons for moving to Honda, they see the possibility of improvement as being a priority whereas that’s not so certain at Renault.

    3. RBR always praised Renault when they were winning (review pressers from 2010-13) Honda will get the same treatment

  9. Old Chinese proverb: “One cannot pass the car ahead if it is in the same lane.”

    Or another: “If one wants different results, one must do something different”

  10. Red Bull taking Honda is a good thing. Red Bull are willing to work with their PU partner in order to improve (eg Paying for Mario Illien to improve the PU). They have extensive PU testing facilities, including an advanced test bed, capable of simulating the car on track (both with and without driver). They have also already said that they will build the car around the PU.

    Honda, want to improve and I feel that RBR and Honda will work better together than either could have done with their previous partners. I am pretty sure that both companies will work together in order to produce the optimum outcome and I am pretty sure that then next gen Honda PU, will be a much more powerful and reliable iteration.

  11. There is one thing many are not mentioning for next year which is the aero change. For Newey this is a dream come true, works engine which they can influence the design of and a chassis built around the engine to make a better tighter package. The move isn’t sideways at all, even if Honda are on par with Renault right now it would still be a good move. And if you are going by performance increase based on time Honda are doing a much better job than Renault, if that trend continues they can easily surpass them by the end of this season or next year. On the other side it doesn’t appear any new manufacturers have committed to F1 so Redbull is looking at the future to see how Honda improve and with new regulations coming they are betting on a brighter future. Redbull have the experience, facilities, personnel, and engineering to make this venture very successful. With TorroRosso using the same rear as Redbull next year expect them to also improve in the standings, they will now have a Newey designed rear to start from and make the car balance better which is what Keys keeps referring back to. It’s a gamble but I think Redbull see it as a better gamble then being a Renault customer.

  12. Let me start first on congratulating RaceFans team in brining in these exclusives. Awesome!

    Then the RedBull same was said time and time by McLaren… They even claimed they had the best chassis.

    Do they have whiff of raw Honda power? Is there something lurking in that Toro Rosso? Anyone have the latest estimates? What power do they make in race/quali trim? Are they stronger than Renault?

  13. Reading between the lines, it sounds as though moving from Renault to Honda will be an easier switch than moving from Honda to Renault (especially as Red Bull have a years worth of heads up knowing the Honda layout, unlike McLaren who only really knew once the ink was dry on the deal.

    It’s well known the Honda engine is lighter, better packaged and better balanced for chassis weight distribution, it’s easier to go to that than the other way, to a larger, heavier unit as McLaren did, partly why their chassis is worse than last year (albeit it was never as good as they claimed anyway, so hard to say how much).

    It does seem they are now much of a muchness in terms of outright power with Renault, but Honda still seem a fair way behind in terms of efficiency, it’s fairly noticeable they are pretty level pegging in qualifying most races with at least one or both of McLaren and Renault works team, but when that’s the case the 2 Renault powered teams generally are always quicker on race day.

    Which in itself, given the consistency of that trend can only really be down to efficiency and/or poorer ERS deployment. That would be the biggest worry for me at Red Bull given that’s the one area they know they still have a strength in despite the lack of outright grunt, they are always much closer on race pace, so unless they know Honda have something big to aid race pace on the way, it has to be a concern.

    My bet would be on them ending up roughly where they are now, perhaps a little further back at the start of the season but a little closer at the end.

  14. “After Renault withdrew its previous factory F1 programme at the end of 2009”
    I thought Renault withdrew its previous program at the the end of 2011?

  15. Christian Horner is the greatest f1 driver

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