Could Honda exit force Red Bull into a Renault reunion – and cost them Verstappen?

2020 F1 season

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Last November Honda announced it was going to remain in Formula 1. But the announcement was striking for a couple of reasons.

First, it was initially revealed not by the manufacturer themselves but by their customer teams, Red Bull and AlphaTauri. Secondly, the deal was extended for a single year only.

Neither of these details gave cause for confidence that Honda were in it for the long-term. Those fears were borne out today, when Honda confirmed it will leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021.

Honda first warned Red Bull in August that they were considering their future in the sport. On August 28th – the Friday of the Belgian Grand Prix – RaceFans asked team principal Christian Horner in an exclusive interview what the team would do if Honda left.

“We’ll have to deal with that bridge if and when that happens,” he said at the time. “But the relationship with Honda is strong, is positive. They’re working flat out on 2021.”

Red Bull won four titles in a row with Renault power…
Now the time has come to cross that bridge. “We understand how difficult it has been for Honda Motor Company to reach the decision,” said Horner today.

“It presents obvious challenges for us as a team, but we have been here before and with our strength in depth we are well prepared and equipped to respond effectively as we have proven in the past.”

The present options available to Red Bull are clear. Get a power unit from one of the three remaining suppliers: Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault. As things stand, they will have three, two and zero customer teams respectively in 2021.

Mercedes have previously refused to consider supplying power units to as strong a rival as Red Bull. The same is true of Ferrari, though the sharp reversal in their fortunes this year mean their engines are no longer the thing to have.

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Clearly Renault, who as recently as 2018 supplied a total of three teams, have capacity to supply Red Bull (and AlphaTauri, for that matter). Whether they want to is another matter entirely.

While Red Bull and Renault enjoyed a string of championship successes at the end of the V8 era, under the V6 hybrid turbo rules the good times stopped rolling and the relationship turned sour. Throughout 2015 Red Bull repeatedly criticised Renault’s engines and casted about everywhere for a replacement. They couldn’t find one, and plugged on for another three years before seizing the opportunity to grab Honda’s power units – delivering the announcement on the eve of Renault’s home race in France.

…but suffered a string of problems in the hybrid era
Stung by Red Bull’s criticism in the past, Renault would be forgiven for feeling a measure of whatever the French word is for schadenfraude. But that doesn’t mean the pair won’t reunite, three years after they split.

Under appendix nine of the F1 sporting regulations the power unit manufacturer which has the fewest customers must be prepared to supply a team which has no engines if called upon to do so. If Red Bull don’t have a deal in place by June 1st next year, the FIA could therefore find itself in the extraordinary position of presiding over a shotgun re-marriage between Red Bull and Renault.

But losing Honda may only be beginning of Red Bull’s problems. Max Verstappen, who re-signed for the team earlier this year, is rumoured to have a clause in his contract linked to the status of the team’s engine supply which allows him to leave the team early.

There would be no shortage of teams eager to sign Verstappen up. Several of Mercedes customers could be attractive options, and there may even be an opening at the factory team by 2022.

Losing their engine supplier is already significant blow for Red Bull. It will become doubly so if it costs them their star driver as well.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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150 comments on “Could Honda exit force Red Bull into a Renault reunion – and cost them Verstappen?”

  1. Could Red Bull / Alpha Tauri continue to run the power units themselves and re-badge them, like when they re-branded their Renaults as TAG-Heuers ??

    1. That was a marketing exercise. Renault still supported & developed the engines, which is something I doubt Honda would do, even if Red Bull were paying 100% of the cost – once a motor manufacturer makes such a decision, it tends to be all in.

      1. Rumors says Red Bull can take over the engine until 2026 and they can hire Cowell for that. With new engines from 2026 it could be some new manufacturer, like Porsche.

        1. Maybe this is the reason Cowell quit Mercedes (June 15th) in the first place? Who knows how long it has been brewing…

      2. @optimal
        I agree with all you have said
        The only thing I don’t like about this site is that it raises issues when there is no issue. Mad Max has no where competitive place to go. He can’t go to Mercedes because Hamilton and his team do not want another disruptive Hamilton/Rosberg situation. Besides, Mercedes has won the last six double titles and it’s not as though they really need Max because they are not winning. Ferrari are not likely to want to take Mad Max as they have just signed Sainz on a 3 year deal alongside Leclerc. Mad Max has no way to go, and may be like Alonso was until he signed to Renault. Red Bull will be racing with Haas in 2022.

    2. someone or something
      2nd October 2020, 14:16

      They didn’t run the TAG Heuer badged power units themselves. Hardware, software, engineers – still 100% Renault. The re-badging served the sole purpose of ostentatively distancing themselves from Renault.

      1. The re-badging served the sole purpose of ostentatively distancing themselves from Renault.

        No it was a pure PR arrangement with an already existing contract.

    3. @StephenH Not going to happen as they’d need Honda personnel to operate the PUs and they wouldn’t get those since Honda is going to leave entirely.

      1. I have a hard time believing Honda would just shelve what is a pretty good PU and investment without somebody continuing to use a develop it a la Mecachrome and Supertec from years ago.

        1. Mugen?

          1. @J.A. B. Mugen is directly linked to Honda.

    4. I guess the most obvious is for RedBull to quit too. So it makes little sense to speculate about new partnerships

      1. They cant leave until 2025 because of the Concorde agreement they have recently signed

    5. This arguement that Mad Mad is the equal or better than Hamilton always makes me laugh. Mad Max, if he was as good-looking enough could be considered the Christiano Ronaldo of formula 1 . Mad Max is a very fast driver on the face of it, but if you go over all his races on YouTube you will see that he is not a100% clean racer like Hamilton is. MAX is overly aggressive and often bullies other drivers off the track. He often moves twice near the breaking zone and does not give other drivers the required space to challenge him. He often squeezes or forces other drivers off the track to make a pass. True Mad MAX might be Ronaldo but he is not Messi is he, you would have to think about Hamilton if you want to talk about Messi.

      1. I agree Max is indeed more talented and attractive to watch. Much more a racer, which is what this sport is all about. Lewis is somewhat processional, perhaps a bit done by his machinery, but overall risk averse

        1. @Mayrthon
          To say Hamilton is risk adverse is such an idiotic thing to say. Go again to YouTube and watch all his McLaren and early Mercedes races,especially with Vettel in the Ferrari in 2017/2018 and comeback to me and then we can talk.

  2. It would be funny seeing Horner/Marko/RBR on his knees begging for PU from Renault.

    1. Let’s hope the Netflix crew get to film the phone call to Cyril!

    2. It would, but it won’t happen because as the rules stand today, Renault will have to supply RBAT with engines if Mercedes and Ferrari don’t want to supply them.

      1. what rules are you talking about? why would ferrari and mercedes be allowed to deny their engine, but renault would not?

        1. @alfa145, it is written in the article:

          Under appendix nine of the F1 sporting regulations the power unit manufacturer which has the fewest customers must be prepared to supply a team which has no engines if called upon to do so.

          Mercedes and Ferrari can say no but not Renault because it is the one with fewest customers.

          1. thanks for that, I had no idea this rule existed. not very liberal, but hey, whatever

      2. They’ll supply the Renault engines of the highest quality.

        1. Are you just 10 yrs old?

    3. @Chaitanya You find that funny? An engine builder quits F1, forcing 2 teams to find a new supplier. 1 of wich is Mercedes closest competitor. Not funny

      1. After Horner and Marko’s behavior this year? I don’t care. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari should just ignore this and leave Red Bull to themselves.

        1. @krichelle What behaviour is that?

          1. Putting Hamilton under pressure. That;s not allowed by his fans.
            He is sacred.

          2. I’d say very simply: being generally obnoxious.

          3. Only people who hate Red Bull (for threatening their idol’s chances, f.i.) complain about Horner and Marko.

      2. The bridges that were burned by Horner and Marko with Renault in wake of this partnership with Honda do make this situation quite ironic and funny. Mercedes and Ferrari have time and time again reiterated they wont supply RBR with engines also starting next year Mercedes have 3 clients apart from factory team running Mercedes PU. Now onto Ferrari they have 2 clients meaning 1 more team can be supplied with Ferrari PU but they are on serious performance parity to Honda and Renault so it wont be wise choice to switch over(even for AT/TR) which leaves them only with Renault as the choice of PU supplier. This whole situation is Horner and Marko shooting their foot royally.

      3. Yes, I also find that funny. The reason for this humour is the way RB treated Renault during their time using Renault engines. It became completely toxic, with Horner blaming every failure on Renault. If they have to go back…. it’d be hilarious!

        1. However at the same time some of the criticism was warranted, and Renault’s constant empty promises of improvements that never came contributed to the situation. There’s two sides to the street. If you want to talk ‘hilarious’ what about if RBR with Renault bests Renault the works team again?

          1. @robbie so great to see that someone else recognises that the criticism levelled at Renault by Horner etc was somewhat warranted because of Renault’s complete ineptitude.

            In 2015 in particular when the token system was in place, the other manufacturers used most/all of their tokens and developed their PU’s. Renault’s contribution was zero tokens used and an abomination of a PU, coupled with pretty much a shrug of the shoulders.

            As a “customer” and a businessman, if my suppliers did that to me, I’d certainly be fairly vocal in letting them know I was unimpressed.

            Could Horner and Marko have handled it better? Probably.

            Will it matter in terms of them getting supply from Renault in 2022 (assuming Renault stick around)? Not a bit. They’ll supply them because they’ll be required to.

          2. @dbradock For sure and I’m not even convinced Renault would refuse them if they could. Business is business and this is a new day with a new chapter around the corner, and Renault with no other partners as of Mac going Merc. Even if there’s a few ‘awkward moments’ that’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. I never was convinced the proverbial bridge was permanently burned even if as you say it could have been handled better.

          3. @robbie Renault certainly wouldn’t refuse to supply engines infact they’d welcome the business. But I would say the price would be on the steep side.

          4. @@johnrkh even the price is FIA approved.
            So no problems there.

          5. If you want to talk ‘hilarious’ what about if RBR with Renault bests Renault the works team again?


            If you want to talk hilarious… compare Red Bull’s results with Honda power, with Red Bull’s results with Renault power. Then have a loud laugh at how they praised the engine partner with whom they had poorer results.

      4. It’s very very funny. May be redbull could build their own engines and fly with their own power, this team is no merc or Ferrari or Renault. Just a toxic sugar drink company.

        1. To be honest, the racing team is just financed by a toxic sugar drink company.

          Give them credit, they’ve been building awesome cars throughout the years. They might be able to find the talents and build an engine.

      5. Mattia Sbinotto
        2nd October 2020, 16:57

        You’re laughing. An engine supplier just left F1 and you’re laughing.

      6. I believe it will be worse. RedBull will quit altogether. Alpha Tauri will be taken over but the RB team will cease to exist.

    4. LOL, sure thing!

  3. and there may even be an opening at the factory team by 2022.

    Is the contract with Hamilton already signed then?

    As far as i know even Hamiltons position could be available. At least the Mercedes team has very strong cards now in the negotiations with HAM. If he is to expensive they now have a excellent replacement. On the other hand, Hamilton is very eager to crush the Schummi records, so he will easily lower his salary demands. Only in a Merc he can do that.
    In both situations the Merc teams profits from the situation.

    1. With no team Toto can exaggerated as a clear and present danger to Mercedes, I can’t see why they need to still be in F1.

    2. Honestly, I don’t see Verstappen as a potential equal-value substitute for Hamilton.
      Sure, Merc could use him to put Hamilton on the sharp end of the stick.
      Would be interesting.

      1. I rate Max very close to Lewis at the moment. Top-tier qualifying, excellent race pace, strong overtaking, etc. There is very little between them.

        1. Agree.

          I put Verstappen slightly ahead on pace, on most occasions, but the difference is small, while Hamilton has the benefit of experience. If the two drivers shared the same team, it would be too close to call as to who would come out on top.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            2nd October 2020, 19:08

            It’s very difficult to compare them as Max has to get 100% out of the car in order to finish where he does whereas Hamilton only needs to be faster than Bottas. If the Red Bull was as fast as Mercedes, Hamilton would kick things up into another gear. Whether that would mean he’s faster than Verstappen or not is unknown.

            I personally think Hamilton is a little bit faster (or at least, more consistent when he’s at 100%) than Verstappen but if I was picking one, I’d go for the guy who is over a decade younger than the other.

          2. F1oSaurus (@)
            3rd October 2020, 9:07

            @petebaldwin Another problem is that Verstappen is not getting 100% out of the car. Like in Hungary and Monza where they were totally lost on setup and he could not even come close to the times they should have been achieving with that car.

            Red Bull actually assumed they would be winning Hungary since that would match the the high drag + high down force nature of their car. For Monza they had the lame excuse that it’s a high power circuit. Like Spa, Mugello and Russia where they did just fine.

            It doesn’t matter that much since they are so much faster than the third team anyway. On race pace especially. Still, when in a WDC fight, drop-offs like that can be killing.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            3rd October 2020, 14:13

            @f1osaurus – Yeah I agree. He’s in a weird position at the moment where when he gets everything out of the car, he’s competing with Bottas but when he doesn’t, he will finish 3rd anyway. With Hamilton, there’s no incentive to get everything out of the car because it’s better to go at 80% and win comfortably without taking any risks and stressing the car.

            I’d love to see both in a position where there is no safety net – having a weaker race means you lose out to the other guy you are fighting for the title. It would be one of the most exciting seasons in F1 we’ve seen for years!

        2. This arguement that Mad Mad is the equal or better than Hamilton always mames me laugh. Mad Max, if he was as good-looking, enough could be considered the Christiano Ronaldo of formula 1 . Mad Max is a very fast driver on the face of it, but if you go over all his races on YouTube you will see that he is not a100% clean racer like Hamilton is. MAX is overly aggressive and often bullies other drivers off the track. He often moves twice near the backing zone and does not give other drivers the required space to challenge him. He often squeezes or forces other drivers off the track to make a pass. True Mad MAX might be Ronaldo but he is not Messi is he, you would have to think about Hamilton if you want to talk about Messi.

      2. Objectively…?
        Lewis really does a very mediocre job this season, yes he is fast on track… actually his car is.
        However…mistakes in Austria, Silverstone, Monza, even Mugello and Russia would have put him way behind Verstappen…if only he had a competitive car.

        Some fans only see Lewis winning, but are oblivious to the mistakes he makes. Lewis season so far is far worse than Verstappen rough start of 2018

    3. Vest rappeN is Vettel 2.0.
      He won’t be able to survive in a equal status merc team.

    4. It’s a no-brainier for Mercedes, if this means Verstappen is available for 2022, put him in one of your cars on a long term deal! Probably for a half of what they’re paying Hamilton and then see if Hamilton wants to stick around to fight it out. Might sound harsh but the team comes first and ultimately Verstappen is the future and Hamilton is closer to the exit door than the new generation. Echoes of what Montezemelo did with Schumacher in 2006.

      Poor management from Red Bull again! They’ve failed to convince Honda to stay. They’ve let Riccardo and Sainz slip through their fingers. They’ve shat all over Renault even though they helped Red Bull win 4 Titles and failed to give them barely any credit at the time. Good luck getting up to date engine specs from Renault! Thank goodness Horner and Helmut aren’t leading the U.K. government’s Covid response effort!!

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        2nd October 2020, 19:10

        Yeah… Because the UK’s Covid response has been excellent. World-beating you might say… lol

      2. Wrong year 2024 is more likely. Lewis will sign 3 year contract this time taking him to end of 2023, with Russell joining him in 2022. Max will get the gig in 2024. Contract exit clause is pure speculation as no media have seen his contract, it just makes good copy.

      3. Do not agree to everything, but do agree that the RB mngt is horribly unprofessional. Same goes for Renault by the way. But its all within a rich mans playground. These people I am referring to wouldnt last in a normal business setting. The way RB and Renault managed their relationship, neither would get away with that if I was their manager

        1. Mayrton

          Please, enlighten us: why is RBR management unprofessional?

          And don’t be afraid to use terms like return on investment, exposure, marketing value and what not.
          I’m sure Mr. Mateschitz is curious to hear your opinion,…..🤣🤣🤣

  4. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    2nd October 2020, 13:43

    None of this is good news.

    1. Its never going to happen, but…. Redbull partnership With ferrari to Build monster pu…. That would be funny :)

      1. someone or something
        2nd October 2020, 14:26

        Ferrari was Red Bull’s engine supplier in 2006, before Red Bull used the blurry contractual separation between both its teams to put the Ferrari engine into the Toro Rossos instead. That partnership continued for another 8 seasons, 2007-2013 and 2016, including 3 seasons during which the Ferrari-powered car was identical to the one used by the team named Red Bull (2007-2009).

        It has happened before, is all I’m saying.

        1. yes it was but only for the Italian team like you said….. not the big one managed by Horner …..i think would be fascinating if they get Ferrari Engine , provide ferrari will fix the engine of course ….

  5. No. Verstappen would not willing to spend years on new engine especially only as customer team. And, no. I don’t see Red Bull willing to spend years with new engine especially only as customer team and without Verstappen.

    1. So, the more likely thing to discuss is whether RB will stay in F1. The answer is their last season will be 2021

  6. …the FIA could therefore find itself in the extraordinary position of presiding over a shotgun re-marriage between Red Bull and Renault.

    Haha, beautifully written!

    1. But also an unlikely scenario. RB will leave F1. They’ve discussed it for several years in a row now. If there ever was a moment to quit, it is at the end of 2021

  7. Eduardo Stark
    2nd October 2020, 13:47

    The way I see it, Verstappen won’t be a champion in a Red Bull anyway. Because Mercedes is simply untouchable. The formula is no longer dictated by aero and Red Bull have never been so strong after their Vettel days.

    If Verstappen left, only place desirable for him is only Mercedes anyway. But they won’t pair him with Hamilton if he’d still like to continue beyond 2021 or 2022.

    Let’s not discount Ferrari to improve but they have placed bet on Leclerc and bunch of starlets upcoming. And I’m not sure Ferrari is a match for him.

    So I guess he’d have to be patient until Hamilton retires.

    1. I wouldn’t say this so sternly.

      For one, everyone including Mercedes at this point acknowledges Max is either on Lewis’ level or very close to it if not for lacking experience. Whether Lewis retires next year or not, we also know he’s not that far of retiring and there’s no telling on when that is. We’re closer to talking a couple of years than five or more years. You want a replacement star by then and Max would be that for years after Lewis gone.

      If Max is available for 2022, and you don’t take him, who’s to say he’s available by the time you do need him to replace Lewis? Especially since your current dominance isn’t exactly guaranteed, you both risk not being able to get him and having him at a rival team stomping all over whoever you do get as a replacement. If he was already beating your second “definitely-not-Hamilton” driver in a car that’s at least half a second slower on pure pace alone before two technical DNF’s, imagine what he could do at another strong team in 2022?

      As people generally acknowledge Max’s talent as being on the level of Lewis, he’ll have no problem with interest from other teams, whether any of them are an option for him, or his best option is sticking with RBR with a Renault engine is another thing entirely, but I highly doubt Merc would let the opportunity slide without consideration because of Lewis.

      1. @aiii
        People who acknowledge Max’s talent as being for sure on the level of Lewis are at the moment wrong.
        Fighting for a podium or for occasional wins on favorable tracks is one thing, sustaining a full season title fight is another.
        And Verstappen has not yet proven to be capable of doing the latter.
        Could he be able to do it? Sure. But we haven’t seen it from him, so it’s pure speculation.
        Being honest, Max never proved to have the mental strenght to fight an equally-equipped teammate…

        1. Neither Hamilton (with a strong team mate who keeps the pressure all year)

          Only with Rosberg and he managed to steal a championship from him.

          1. Alonso? Button?

            Both WDC. Both kept pressure on over the seasons they drove together. Both were outscored by Hamilton.

        2. @Fantomium
          Your just looking at results, completely ignoring potential.
          No single driver outside the Mercedes drivers are able to fight for titles or even wins cause of the advantage Mercedes has on other teams, with Bottas being a lesser driver than Lewis, he’s actually the only driver in position to win… It is not a matter of competence rather than material.

          You have to adapt your mindset to seeing Lewis and Max in equal cars, Max these days is far more consistent than Lewis is, arguably faster as well considering the gaps to their team mates over the last 5 seasons.
          Your just counting on Lewis to win, cause you’re used to Lewis winning… he in fact had only Bottas and Rosberg to beat…Verstappen along with possibly some other very potential good drivers will be a whole different challenge than Lewis is used to.

        3. Max never proved to have the mental strenght to fight an equally-equipped teammate…

          you’re opinion about Ricci is remarkable.
          But it fits your F1 knowledge i guess.

      2. Final evaluation of the 2019 season by f1metrics:
        5: Charles Leclerc 7.98 ppr
        4: Sebastian Vettel 8.13 ppr
        3: Carlos Sainz 8.22 ppr
        2: Lewis Hamilton: 8.26 ppr
        1: Max Verstappen: 8.79 ppr

        Max is way ahead in the model, which IMO is a much better estimator than the opinion of any armchair fan.
        BTW 2019 was the first year Max was the best pilot in the model, while Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton has been best two years: 2007 and 2018, and Sebastian Vettel was best in 2015 and 2017.

      3. @aiii Wait to see what Mercs deal with Hamilton is, if it’s only a one year deal then yes Verstappen could be in with a shot. If it’s another 3 year deal?
        Also Russel coming on board in 2022 most likely.

      4. @aiii I’m not sure what you mean by the phrase “if not for lacking experience” – Max is into his sixth season in Formula 1 and has started 112 races by now. With that relative level of experience, Max is already comfortably amongst the most experienced F1 drivers there have ever been – he’s already in the top 60 most experienced drivers in terms of total number of race starts, and will be approaching the top 50 by the end of this season.

        By historical standards, Max has a comparable level of experience to, say, where Prost or Senna were when they were into their eighth season in F1 and would be considered more of a veteran driver – I don’t see how he can really be said to be “lacking experience” by now.

        1. Stewart had won three DWC and retired at 99 GPs.

    2. It’s clearly dictated by aero. Mercedes has the best aero.

      Williams has the same engines as Mercedes. The difference is aero.

      1. @douglaswebster I’d go one step further and say it’s not ‘just’ aero or the engine. It’s that Mercedes have managed to have the best team, able to adapt and work out any of their problems in record time.

        Red Bull (as one example) still keep putting their lot in with headline signings like Adrian Newey and Max Verstappen, but it’s often to the detriment of the team. They keep chasing the figureheads, but the entire team suffers when the design department keeps churning out nervous cars chasing ultimate aero performance and all the parts and design direction goes towards one driver, leaving half the team demoralised & forgotten.

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        3rd October 2020, 9:11

        @douglaswebster It’s also the drivers. You see how Mercedes keeps improving with help from Hamilton and how Renault has found the way forward with Ricciardo.

        1. @f1oclown
          You’re absolutely right about drivers and development; look at how Verstappen already helped RBR from fourth in the rankings to a steady 2nd, despite an engine switch……😂😂😂

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            5th October 2020, 11:35

            Well 2016 they still had Ricciardo. Who indeed helped develop the car to P2. After Ricciardo left they have been stuck at the end of the top teams.

          2. What you say?!

      3. I think a car is more than an engine and aero.
        The chassis, the suspension, I think Mercs have a very good suspension. Look at how the car is stable in any type of corner, and how it’s easy on the tires (except for extremes like Silverstone 2).
        That, together with a great engine, and very good aero, is what I think makes the car great.
        I think the car is very predictable, and that Mercedes has something, some algorithm that if you put the variables of a circuit in it, the car will perform optimal, and as expected on that circuit. Where I think RBR is more ‘off’ at some circuits, and therefore not performing optimal

    3. Actually the formula is highly dependent on aero and it’s just Mercedes are better in that department than even Red Bull now. It’s then a long gap back to McLaren and Renault for aero development. Ferrari seem lost on their aero concept, Sauber are shunted down the same alley as Ferrari due to their rear end. Haas are running outdated aero concepts due to outsourcing their chassis. Racing Point have last years Mercedes and seemingly no understanding on how to get the most from it or develop it at the moment. Alpha Tauri are running a less efficient version of last years Red Bull.

      The current technical prowess rankings has moved on since 2009-2015 and Red Bull are no longer the kings. This is perfectly normal though as in the past we’ve had the following in the past McLaren(88)-Williams(91)-McLaren(98)-Ferrari(02)-McLaren(07)-Brawn(09)-Red Bull(10)-Mercedes(17) as the kings of aerodynamics imo. When Mercedes concept overtook Red Bull is debatable as they did have a performance advantage in the early hybrid years from the PU.

      1. @slowmo, its not only aero.
        Look at the wheel geometry and the way the chassis react to forces. There is a lot more then just aero!
        (not talking about the DAS system btw)

  8. I predict RBR will have Renault pu(s) and Max will stay put. I don’t see him going anywhere better because I don’t see LH leaving.

    1. Pretty much how I see it too @robbie

    2. @robbie

      Yeah, a Renault PU seems like a given, unless something really unexpected happens (like a new engine supplier).

      And Lewis keeps threatening to leave and then nevertheless resigns, suggesting that it is all negotiation strategy to get a better salary.

      1. @aapje Further to that though, I don’t recall LH hinting at leaving, and I’m pretty confident he has made his desires to stay well known. I think that it won’t really be a negotiation. He wants to stay, they want him to stay, he’ll name his number and they’ll pay it, and the only reason it hasn’t been done is the rest is a mere formality of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

    3. Agree. Only leverage RB has is the threat to turn it’s back on F1 if they don’t get what they want.

    4. I don’t see Hamilton leaving either, but the longer he leaves it, the greater the chance someone else will take his seat.

      The only prospect at the moment is Verstappen.

    5. @robbie Yes. Nothing will change much on the driver or team side. Just Honda leaving.

    6. I think you’re correct as well @robbie. People are trying to make a drama out of this but I think RBR will take Renault PU and Verstappen will stay put for now.

      The potential that there is a get out in Max’s contract might put more pressure on the Hamilton contract negations. However I think he will sign a new 2 year deal for 2022/2023 at least. Then Merc won’t have them both in the same team.

  9. So, Honda is going to leave F1, shred their engines, demolish or repurpose their engine factory and fire their F1 personnel…

    Or they’ll sell the whole bunch to Porsche, Audi or Red Bull themselves?
    Who knows how long negotiations have been running already before this news was made public.

    1. Their engine facility is mostly based in japan with long term honda employees. Sadly little chance of the operation moving into new ownership

    2. The brightest Honda engineers are seconded to F1 and other race series as part of their career path. Even the bosses are routinely returned to the parent company even if they are having a successful run, such as in MotoGP.

    3. The only reason any other company would get hold of Honda IP would be if Honda were going bust and any administrator was selling off the family silver to pay bills.

      They will simply take everything they own and mothball it somewhere until possibly needed in the future.

  10. Lewis needs to man up and let Max join. The diva is so scared that he will be shown up for what he is and currently his status allows him to dictate who is the Merc number 2 driver and teamboy Bottas fits the bill absolutely perfectly.

    Lewis is a great driver but is he a true great? Maybe but I have my doubts. And until he ALLOWS this to happen we will never know.

    He knows full well Leclerc and Max are at least at his level as a driver, hence why the current status quo.

  11. Under appendix nine of the F1 sporting regulations the power unit manufacturer which has the fewest customers must be prepared to supply a team which has no engines if called upon to do so.

    So RBR only needs Williams and Aston Point to sign with Renault to guarantee Mercedes PU supply.

    1. @coldfly Lol might be better odds of Honda announcing later today ‘just kidding!!’

  12. GtisBetter (@)
    2nd October 2020, 14:28

    If it makes business sense, Renault will partner with RB. F1 is to expensive for Renault to lose out on revenue. It makes even more sense if you consider the Alpine rebrand.

    Assuming Mercedes seat isn’t open till 2022, might as well see what Hamilton does then. And max could see what 2022 brings and decide after a year when the power balance is known.

  13. Be interesting to see if Max has a get out clause. Max to Mercedes alongside Ham is surely the dream ticket for everyone involved? Max, Ham, Mercedes and F1. And the pressure on Mercedes for that to happen would be immense. The only loser would be RB.

    1. HAM would retire first I think.

  14. @slowmo
    It was always like that. But since 2014 the PU has a huge impact on performance, because it also dictates your aero philosophy. Having more horsepower than your competitors means you don’t have to balance out downforce and drag. You don’t have to compromise, you just put on as much downforce as possible (Ferrari tried that this season, thinking they’d still have the same PU, but failed completely).
    Between 2007 and 2013 it didn’t matter which engine you had, you could win with anyone of them, because they were very close in performance due to the engine freeze.

    1. @srga91 last year the best PU was clearly the Ferrari and the 3 teams that used it were not the best packages. Most people seem to think the engine performance was comparable up until Ferrari had to take off 5 years of development. I doubt there is a huge gap on the PU side for Renault or Honda although I agree Mercedes probably have the strongest PU.

      There is however more to the PU than power, things such as fuel efficiency, drivability, power delivery. There are some areas where the Renault and Honda have shown superiority in the past such as performance at altitude or in high temperatures.

      There is even more than just aero and engine performance on a car such as ease to setup and drive. Then there is also how good they are at getting the car in the tyre window. Then we have aero stability, mechanical grip.

      It might not be all aero that matters but provided you can run your car in the ideal tyre window, having the best aero concept will net you the fastest race car provided the engine is comparable. It’s unlikely in stable engine regulations that you will get sufficient engine power to negate the aero advantage as Ferrari clearly proved last year that even by cheating and likely running a huge amount of extra power they could not beat the Mercedes package on most weekends.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        3rd October 2020, 9:15

        @slowmo Much of the 2019 results were based on the drivers. Races like Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria, Russia, Japan and Mexico (after Verstappen throwing it away) were races which Ferrari should have won. Plus the utter disaster in Brazil as a bonus.

        Red Bull should have won in Hungary, Monaco and Mexico.

        Instead Hamilton stole most of those wins away from them

        1. @f1osaurus

          “Much of the 2019 results were based on the drivers.”

          Hahaha, what a joke, once again. The reality is that Mercedes, with their all conquering juggernaut, should have won every race (like they should have since 2014 bar mechanical faillures) but thanks to their “star”driver (the man famous for throwing away races AND championships, once again failed to deliver, hence the wins by Red Bull and Ferrari.
          (what’s his count this year: Austria, Silverstone, Monza and Russia……..almost 50% of the races thrown away)

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            5th October 2020, 7:05

            This cannot be that hard to understand. Races like Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria, Russia, Japan and Mexico (after Verstappen throwing it away) were races which Ferrari should have won. Plus the utter disaster in Brazil as a bonus.

            Red Bull should have won in Hungary, Monaco and Mexico.

            Instead Hamilton stole most of those wins away from them

  15. What if the powers that be come to the conclusion F1 as a whole would benefit from a closer fight at the top and therefore would supply RBR with Mercedes engines?

    1. If there’s one thing we’ve learned with Mercedes, it’s that it’s winning before anything.

      1. Whereas in the mythical golden age of F1 Lotus, Williams, Ferrari, Schumacher, Senna, etc. all felt just taking part was enough.

        “No need to stress old boy, aero is for oiks who think its about winning, we build engines to have fun not win”. – no one in F1 ever.

        “No need to go for that gap that’s not there, being a racer is about the joy in sharing”
        – Ayrton Definitely not Senna.

        Watching teams push for every last tenth to bring back a win is F1.

        1. I really don’t know what your comment is about

  16. Interesting rumour. Honda have been working on the engine project with assistance from RB and Ilmor, and RB have known about this exit for months. RB take what they can from the project and work with Ilmor on a new engine. Just need a genius to pull it all together. Someone who happens to be looking for new challenges. Someone like Andy Cowell.

    1. Ilmor was bought by Mercedes years ago and is now the Merc power unit division at Brixworth.

      One founder died in 2001.

      After originally developing IndyCar engines, the company built a partnership with Mercedes-Benz to power F1 cars for both the Sauber and McLaren teams. After the death of Paul Morgan in a vintage aeroplane crash in 2001, Mercedes increased its stake until it owned the entire company, and renamed it Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines Ltd. In 2005, Mario Illien concluded a deal to purchase the Special Projects part of the company in partnership with Roger Penske, which was under contract with Honda Performance Development to jointly develop, arrange, prepare and tune-up IndyCar engines from 2003–2011.[1] This new company, which is independent of Mercedes, is once again known as Ilmor Engineering Ltd. They developed the Ilmor X3 for the 2007 MotoGP World Motorcycle Championship, entering one race before withdrawing and effectively shutting down the race team….

      ” Wikipedia

      So with the right finance might it be reborn? But more interesting is the connection with Honda.

      1. Discussed by Matthew Carter on the latest Mixed Apex podcast. And many articles from 2018 (Noble, etc) suggesting that Ilmor as consultants are embedded in the Honda/RB partnership.

      2. Witan, what Mercedes purchased was Ilmor UK, which was only one part of the wider operations of Ilmor.

        Illien and Morgan formed another company known as Ilmor Engineering in 1990, which is based in the USA and intended to serve that market. Illien retained ownership of that company after Mercedes bought Ilmor UK, and it is Ilmor Engineering which has been involved.

        Mario Illien is still part of Ilmor Engineering, and has previously confirmed that he has undertaken work as an engineering consultant to Renault on their engine – Illien is also thought to have been active with Honda as well though Ilmor Engineering.

        That said, I am doubtful that Red Bull would go to the effort of funding Ilmor to produce that engine, not least because it is likely that Ilmor’s involvement would probably have been limited to specific components. As others have noted, it’s unlikely Honda would sell off the rights to those engines – even if they did, you still have the problem of the energy recovery system. The rather more likely scenario would be for Red Bull to return to a partnership with Renault.

    2. @riptide Andy Cowell is rumoured to replace Otmar Szafnauer at Racing Point.

      1. Thanks for the link, I seem to have missed that.

  17. It’s still called Schadenfreude and not Schadenfraude ;)

  18. As the Ferrari engine is not the way to go at the moment and Mercedes is unlikely to provide a rival team, they have to sort it out with Renault.
    But in the end it’s all about business and they will put their egos aside. Renault do need some incomes and more data from other teams.
    For Red Bull it’s not that bad either, the Renault engine isn’t bad after all and arguably a step forwards compared to Honda.
    As far Verstappen is concerned I don’t think he is even a factor in the calculations. Renault will probably not veto him, but he will immediately jump into a Mercedes anyway as soon as they offer him a seat, regardless which engine Red Bull is running.
    But as long as Hamilton is around I can’t see that happening either so he has to stay put.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      3rd October 2020, 9:28


      As the Ferrari engine is not the way to go at the moment

      I see that a lot, but why not?

      They might have gone from almost 70bhp up on Mercedes at the end of 2019 to last in class in 2020, but it’s not like the Ferrari powertrain is slower or less reliable than Renault. The bhp estimates put Ferrari at worst 5bhp behind Renault.

      Ferrari already supplies the maximum of 3 teams though, but they could get an OK from the FIA to take on a fourth like Mercedes does.

      Mercedes is unlikely to provide a rival team,

      Mercedes did offer their engines to Red Bull. Lauda went to Mateschitz to offer their engine. Mateschitz blew that deal by stabbing Lauda in the back and trying first to get a deal from Ferrari instead (who rejected them flat out). Still, Mercedes did offer a rival team their engine.

    2. @roadrunner under the current regulations, manufacturers are normally only allowed to supply a maximum of three customer teams – with McLaren switching to their engines next year, Mercedes will reach that limit of three teams next year. Unless one of their customers unexpectedly changed supplier, Mercedes would not be allowed to supply engines to Red Bull because they’d have already reached their limits.

      1. You’re right of course. But it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be a way if they really wanted to.
        It would be great for us but you can’t really blame Mercedes for bending the rules to their disadvantage…

  19. F1oSaurus (@)
    2nd October 2020, 16:30

    Mercedes have previously refused to consider supplying power units to as strong a rival as Red Bull.

    Ehm no they haven’t. Lauda went to Mateschitz to talk about putting a Mercedes engine in the Red Bull.

    It’s the disingenuous behavior from Mateschitz that collapsed that deal. Instead of agreeing to Lauda proposal, Mateschitz immediately went behind Lauda’s back and asked Ferrari if they could get their engine instead. Ferrari said no and then Mercedes realized that dealing with Red Bull was always going to be a bad idea.

    Red Bull have only themselves to blame that they lost that Mercedes engine deal.

    To be honest they also have themselves to blame for losing Honda. Verstappen just keeps going on about how much slower he is on the straights. Implying that Honda power is causing him that time. While in fact it’s the draggy nature of the Red Bull and the setup he chooses that makes him slow on the straight.

    1. Do you have a source for that? Not in any way doubting what you say but I’d like to read more about it and see who said what.

      1. @pdduggan Good luck with that lol.

      2. Few other stories like this from the same time period if you want to look around.


          Here’s one from 3 weeks prior to that one. Mercedes were never going to supply RBR and it is of course ridiculous to suggest it would have happened but for whatever nonsense some want to claim. They were never going to hand the keys of their war chest over to a threat such as RBR.

          Just as it is utter nonsense that RBR brought Honda‘a exit upon itself. Just more drivel from a troll that thinks by saying it it must be true. The nerve of RBR winning with their pu when Mac couldn’t come close.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            3rd October 2020, 9:30

            @robbie Yes that article was the outcome of it all (weeks after Lauda went to Mateschitz). When Mercedes realized that Red Bull was not going to give them any benefit.

            The truth is that
            – Lauda went to Mateschitz
            – Lauda offered them the Mercedes engine
            – Red Bull didn’t take the offer.

          2. @f1osaurus The only thing the linked articles here establish is that Mercedes believed Mateschitz would not approach them because he didn’t like them, and then when Red Bull did approach them, they turned them down.

            Don’t know how you made that out to be Lauda went to Mateschitz and offered the engine and Red Bull refused. Seems you just took it out of the air..

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            5th October 2020, 7:28

            Ugh good grief of course external links hold up the post

            @balue That article exactly shows what happened I said. Lauda met with Mateschitz and they weren’t interested. He’d rather have Ferrari engine, because of his hate for Mercedes.

            It gets some details wrong, because indeed it was Lauda who went to Red Bull rather then them awaiting to be called by Mateschitz first. How else would he know they were not interested? Lauda went there, proposed a deal and then Red Bull never came back to finalize that deal.

            Also the deal from Ferrari was attempted after Lauda offered the Mercedes engine, but there was no offer from Ferrari rather than solely a request from Red Bull which was denied by Ferrari.

            After that, Mercedes got to their sense and rescinded their offer.

            So what is different from what I said apart from their (illogical) flipping of who called who?

            google for: analysis-how-vw-s-f1-vision-helped-kill-red-bull-mercedes-deal/652388/

            There actually was a repeat of this whole story a few months ago on

            This is a more accurate description of what happened:
            And google: how-red-bull-missed-the-engines-of-mercedes-despite-a-deal-with-lauda

            According to Marko, Horner, Mateschitz and Lauda, the deal was done. By the end of 2015 it had been agreed that Mercedes would deliver engines to Red Bull in 2016

          4. @f1osaurus So if an article doesn’t fit your narrative it must be wrong.. Jeez

          5. F1oSaurus (@)
            5th October 2020, 9:16

            @balue Oh come on. It’s wrong because it doesn’t match other reports of the events and because, as I explained why, the small “differences” make no sense. But even so in no way does it go against the chain of events as I gave: Lauda/Mercedes wanted to deal, Mateschitz would rather go for Ferrari, in the end both fell through.

            If you are actually interested then look this one up: analysis-how-vw-s-f1-vision-helped-kill-red-bull-mercedes-deal/652388/

      3. F1oSaurus (@)
        3rd October 2020, 9:31

        @pdduggan See the post from ian. and the post from robbie how it all panned out after Mateschitz messed it all up.

        I’ts all well documented really.

        1. Hmmm, so why did RBR use Tag Heuer engines after 2015?

          Oh wait, despite “refusing Mercedes engines” they did terminate the Renault agreement…..

          It’s all well documented krxx

        2. @f1osaurus alice in wonderland is probably your favorite history book.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            5th October 2020, 7:25

            Lol funny. Why do Verstappen fan extremists always have so little knowledge of F1 and still have such a big mouth? It’s like not having a clue is a prerequisite of being a Verstappen fan.

  20. Electroball76
    2nd October 2020, 18:13

    I expect RB will be renewing calls for an independent customer engine supplier.

  21. How feasible would it be for Red Bull to take over Honda’s engine operation and become an engine supplier themselves? It seems by far the cleanest route out of this.

  22. @casanova,
    Red Bull higher ups have have shot down the idea of building their own PUs, a few times. I don’t imagine their plan would change this time either.

    I’m too lazy to link up the year old articles here.

  23. If they loose Verstappen over this, RedBull would be in dire straights.

    If they don’t likeley he will not become a champion for many years if ever.

  24. What about this curve ball… Red Bull pays Williams for its Mercedes supply, avoiding an sour reunion and finally giving them the chance to challenge for the title. Mercedes would baulk at this for obvious reasons but Liberty would love to see it and could broker a deal.

    Then we’d have a Williams Renault and Alpha Tauri Renault.
    Stranger things have happened.

    1. @aussierod, that scenario is not that far-fetched.
      For 1995 Briatore did a similar thing as he had bought a stake at Ligier (that had Renault engines) then transferred the contract to Benetton whilst at the same time the Ligier car looked a lot like the Benetton, so one helped each other!

      With new owners and assuming they are not already talking with Renault for a partnership, having Red Bull getting their engines whilst helping them designing the car seems a good deal for Williams as the Renault engine is at least a podium contender and what they really need is a better car.

  25. With the benefit of hindsight… Mclaren did make the correction decision after all

    1. The current Renault is not bad. They seem to have solved the reliability problems ( at last!!!!!!)
      The driveability of the renault seems very good.
      Maybe lacking some bhp compared with the Merc but a nice turbo sound on revs..
      ( but i will miss the very nice Honda growl)

  26. So Hamilton hasn’t signed yet?
    Verstappen has an engine supplier exit clause?

    Wolfe has a tough decision then.

    Hamilton is the current but aging Merc champion. He works well with the team. He has a giant fan base.

    Verstappen is the only equivalent driver on the grid. But he will almost certainly be faster than Hamilton sometime soon. He is probably cheaper too. He might not be available in 2022.

    Seems like Bottas seat might be the first choice. That avoids bad PR for dumping Hamilton.
    But Wolfe might want to avoid having two roosters, or might not have the budget.

    Is Hamilton’s seat safe?

  27. I won’t mind if Max leaves the driver-mistreating team.

  28. “Losing their engine supplier is already significant blow for Red Bull. It will become doubly so if it costs them their star driver as well.” If that were to happen maybe Mercedes would reconsider providing them with engines. :)

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