Christian Horner, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Renault don’t want to supply engines to Red Bull – Horner

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says “the only option that works” for the team is to take over Honda’s engine supply after the manufacturer’s planned departure at the end of the 2021 F1 season.

Honda’s intended exit leaves Red Bull and sister team AlphaTauri seeking a new engine supplier for 2022 and beyond. Horner says their preferred option is to continue using Honda’s engines, but that can only happen if F1 freezes engine development after next season.

“Obviously we’ve got a little bit of time,” he told Sky. “We’ve got just under 18 months to get ourselves sorted.

“But the more we look, there really only is one option that works and that would be to agree something with Honda where we could take on the [intellectual property] for the Honda engine.

“But of course that would have to be dependent on the regulations. It would only make sense for an independent engine supplier, as Red Bull would effectively be, if there was a freeze because it would just be impossible to fund the kind of development spend that goes on with these engines.”

“All that details needs to be fixed with Honda’s senior management,” he added. “But it’s so dependent on what the regulations are going to be. It’s absolutely fundamental that there has to be an engine freeze with these power units until the introduction of the new engines.”

F1 should introduce a freeze to prevent the sport being left with just three engine suppliers, said Horner.

“It’s a big wake-up call for Formula 1 to have a major engine manufacturer like Honda walk away from the sport at the end of ’21. That leaves only three engine suppliers. That’s a very precarious place for the sport to be. So that’s why the governing body really needs to take control of this.”

“The FIA, the commercial rights holder, they need to step up and do their bit,” he added. “I think that for Formula 1 to lose an engine manufacturer is not a good thing. It would be criminal to see those engines just on a shelf somewhere in a Japanese warehouse.”

Mercedes, who will have four engine customers next year, have already ruled out supplying further power units to either Red Bull-owned team. That leaves Red Bull with two options among the current suppliers – Ferrari and Renault – but Horner said “all focus is on plan A”, which is to continue using Honda power.

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“Toto’s made Mercedes’ case very clear,” he said. “Obviously Ferrari have got their own issues that they’re dealing with.

“Renault don’t really want to supply us. Their aspirations as a team obviously have changed. It’s inconvenient to supply a team like Red Bull, we’re not a standard customer team, we’re not a small team.”

Under F1’s rules, if Red Bull or AlphaTauri do not have a power unit supply for 2022 agreed by June 1st next year then whichever manufacturer is supplying the fewest teams – currently Renault – would be required to supply them.

During the Eifel Grand Prix Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said he had not yet been approached by Red Bull.

“I don’t think it’s a question of whether we are open or not open,” he said. “We know the regulation. When you are a participant to the sport you have to accept the rules. It’s part of the sporting regulation. So, we know what that is.

“We also know the details, including in terms of timing and as anyone can check in the sporting regulations, there is still quite a bit of time before we get there.

“I can’t imagine that they don’t have a ‘Plan A’ or ‘Plan B’ and I think we are very far in the pecking order of the alphabet before they call us again.”

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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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46 comments on “Renault don’t want to supply engines to Red Bull – Horner”

  1. someone or something
    24th October 2020, 14:38

    Not the first time he has his alphabet upside down.
    The real order is:
    – Plan A: Ferrari. Not too much bad blood between them, but of course, the Ferrari PU is currently nothing to get excited about.
    – Plan B: Renault. No matter what Renault think about supplying Red Bull, the rules are clear. Power-wise, not much of a difference to Honda.
    Plan C: Mercedes. Pretty much a guaranteed no. Mercedes have little interest in supporting their strongest competitor, and no rule can force them to.
    Plan Þ (or any other obsolete letter far down the order): Everyone else stops developping engines in order to please that one team that can choose between two perfectly viable options, but kinda prefers a special treatment.

    1. Plan D. Both RB & AT leave F1……….and nobody to challenge the mercs……..brilliant

      1. someone or something
        24th October 2020, 19:50

        I don’t really see how that’s relevant here. Of course there is a danger of Red Bull leaving the sport. Always has been. And of course losing the Honda partnership may tip the balance towards them leaving.

        But all of this has virtually nothing to do with the engine they end up using. They’re bound to lose works team privileges and a chunk of money from Honda, regardless of whether they use Ferrari, Renault, or a re-badged Honda. Those are the factors that matter.
        In short, their bargaining position is extremely weak.

  2. From what I understand, Renault doesn’t have a say in this matter, per regulations they have to supply Red Bull with if the team needs to. This is a PR stunt from Horner to pressure FIA into freezing engine development (frankly, I don’t blame Renault for not wanting to supply Red Bull, I mean, look at how they are being treated by them)

    1. Yes, Renault acknowledges this in the article, but I think Renault can supply a customer spec PU and not the works spec PU, which Red Bull surely would get given their criticism in the past. Horner’s comment is as much a PR stunt as it is a statement of fact…. they are better off continuing with the Honda than using a Renault.

      1. I believe that there can be no differences between the Works spec PU and the customer PU anymore. Someone will have to correct me on that, though.

        1. I believe you’re correct. Teams using the same engine also have to now use the same engine mode as well.

        2. There are a lot of differences. Not many of them are with the engine itself. It is basically the same engine. But a factory team gets the engine plans and requirements (cooling requirements) made to fit so both get the best package. When you are just a customer you get whatever they send you when they send it to you. You don’t get to make suggestions and you don’t get much support if you have issues where a minor change could help you.

          To put it bluntly when red bull gets an engine from honda it is made for the red bull chassis. Red bull gets full access to the engine and has honda engineers work with them fixing issues and making changes that may or may not be mutually beneficial. There is deeper level of information sharing and both parties have an udnerstanding what the other party wants and needs. Honda may want more cooling and they get it. Red bull may want different packaging and they get it. Or they work it out together. Red bull gets the best factory maps and deployment strategies along with brand new parts.

          When red bull gets an engine from renault it is an engine that is tailor made for the renault chassis. Red bull gets the barebones access to renault engineers who are there just checking red bull don’t go outside the limits with the engine with temperatures, mileage, hours, speeds etc.. If red bull has an issue with the engine they have to try to fix it with the car if possible. Renault may introduce a new version of the engine that may or may not need more or less coiling or has slightly different packaging. Red bull just has to deal with it. And when things break red bull has to go through their own spares or renault sends them used spares that red bull can fix. Parts are being taken out of older engines and refurbished if they fit. All this while red bull may have to fight renault on track.

          It is the same engine. Basically.

    2. I’d guess this is either targetted towards the FIA (as you mention @fw11b), and no Renault cannot supply a “customer spec PU” in contrast to a “works spec PU” @sprintcarfan. The FIA has mandated that the power units AND the power modes available to ALL teams using the engine are the same as Anon A Mouse wrote. And have to be available at the same time (with only a bit of leeway to allow for production leadtime etc).

      The other option is, that this is targetted at Honda to make the point and get to actually talk about this with Honda.

  3. I don’t know about everyone else but I’m going to enjoy this story line all the way to the finish…
    And it’s Horner who said it, so what is he really saying? Because it’s obviously something else the words suggest :-)

    1. I very much wanted Honda to licence their IP (along with the necessary equipment and a few personnel for a few years) ideally to a 3rd party like Ilmore or Cosworth. But when CH says RB want to do it, it suddenly sounds less attractive.

  4. Well if it isn’t the consequences of your own actions.

  5. A man who runs a team that is owned by a bloke who sells soft drinks complaining about a major car manufacturer who chooses to leave because of market requirements. Then goes onto criticise another major manufacturer who gave RB 4 WMC’s.

  6. Karma does excist , apperently

  7. I can’t believe three major car manufacturers don’t want a customer publicly rubbishing them and their engine for the next few years.

    1. My exact sentiments! Why would any PU manufacturer want to supply RBR if they already have their own factory team.

      RBR will always be at their most competitive when the performance differentials are unlocked through aero development instead of through the engine/PU. Therefore this course of action a surprise to absolutely no-one.

    2. My exact sentiments! Why would any PU manufacturer want to supply RBR if they already have their own factory team.

      RBR will always be at their most competitive when the performance differentials are unlocked through aero development instead of through the engine/PU. Therefore this course of action is a surprise to absolutely no-one.

    3. Definitely. Car manufacturer’s are sensitive that way.
      The next question, what about Pirelli. Seems everyone rubbishes them but they keep coming back. Make sense out of that. I know it has influenced my tyre choices.

  8. Are the FIA / F1 / Ferrari likely to accept an engine freeze? No.

    Are Mercedes or Ferrari going to supply both Red Bull teams? No.

    It’s Renault or bust then isn’t it?

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      24th October 2020, 18:31

      Pretty much and RB/Horner burnt that bridge down with Renault when leaving that relationship. I think they will come back with a tail between their legs because it will not be easy nor cheap to take on an engine department regardless of how helpful Honda is when transferring that facility over.

      Horner should have been a little more diplomatic when cutting ties with Renault. Looks like Renault has come a long way in terms of competitiveness (both chassis and PU). O well! Should be exciting to watch all this go down. I think ultimately RB will take the Renault PUs.

  9. They even tried throwing in Albon to sweeten the deal, but it made negotiations worse. Probably.
    RedBull could rebadge the Honda engine as Citron.

  10. The engine freeze ain’t happening while Ferrari have the worst engine so you may as well forget plan A Horner.

    1. M. Binotto has said that the 2021 Ferrari engine is well under-way and coming along very nicely.
      Expect that they will at least be better than this year.
      Regardless, Ferrari would likely vote against a freeze.

    2. The engine freeze isn’t happening because it will ruin the FIA plans of using synthetic fuel in 2022 (20%) and 2023 (100%) as this requires a redesign of the cylinder heads.
      Without this synthetic fuel is out of the question.

  11. I wonder if Horner’s position is at any risk. He is there since the beginning and his mishandling of the relationship with Renault is the main cause of this situation. That’s on him.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      24th October 2020, 18:31


    2. You underestimate the terrible job Renault did. Of course its not nice to receive flack. But most of the critic was very deserved.

      1. Deserved or not Renault gave them 4 Championships, they obviously weren’t complaining then. As soon as things don’t go well, that’s when the true character comes out… RedBull has none. Does F1 need them? Yes, but fans don’t have to like them especially Horner or Marko.

  12. I dont believe Horner. I think this is a ploy to push for engine restrictions so they stick with the Honda engines and not lose face by going to Renault.

    1. Berry Koelewijn
      24th October 2020, 17:03

      Than you for spotting the elefant in the room. ;-)

  13. This is really shoddy behaviour by Red Bull but I think we should expect nothing less. Horner is more or less trying to blackmail the FIA into giving them the engine freeze they want or they may take the option of running away with their ball i.e. leaving F1.

    I don’t think the FIA should give into them. The rules are quite clear. Either Renault or possibly Ferrari will need to supply them. Whether this is good for the competitiveness of the racing though is a different question.

    I know that Red Bull and Renault have a difficult history. But that Renault engine is looking pretty good this year in the Renault and the McLaren.

    1. I think the fia SHOULD give in to red bull’s demands, I read somewhere from the f1 governing body that they need at least 9 teams to be sustainable, if red bull leaves they’ll have 8.

      Add in the silly 200 mil cost rule to make another team and red bull leaving is the end of f1, so they don’t have much choice.

      Not to mention there’s already low competition now vs mercedes, let alone without red bull.

  14. Probably because they don’t want to suffer the foul-mouthed wrath of Mini-Max Verstappen.

  15. Cmon Christian, it’s you that doesn’t want Renault, not the other way round. Renault have been clear that they will supply you if asked.

  16. So now redbull slowly grasps that making an engine is no easy task, and want a engine freeze….. what a joke.

    I hope Honda charges these jump ties something like 500 million pounds for lack of respect shown to Honda. An Aston Martin logo on a Honda car????
    Very silly of redbull to disrespect the soul makers for their car.

  17. With Alonso in the Renault team, redbull can forget about anything from the Renault PU.
    He’s gonna drive you out of business. Oh boy, can’t wait to see the redbull hopelessness crumble and poof.

  18. János Henkelmann
    24th October 2020, 20:09

    Proves once again that burning bridges and unnecessarily making enemies will hurt you later…

  19. Horner, tweaking engines and slogans: Red Bull gives you whinges.

    1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      24th October 2020, 20:30

      Nice, nice… :-)

  20. RB can still get the IP and make their own engines even without the freeze. They’ll suck of course in the future, but that’s on them for refusing to invest.

    They basically want their cake and eat it too. Either become a customer (which they have done before) or be their own engine maker and prepare to invest to develop it.

  21. Your Therapist
    24th October 2020, 23:25

    The biggest point all of you are missing is that Red Bull is the only team on the grid that own two teams: RB and AT. If they pull both teams out Formula 1 will be in an existential crisis never seen before. They have significant leverage to force the FIA to change the rules. Without them, the entire circus loses value…. even more so because literally no decent organization/manufacturer/team wants to get in Formula 1 with the current engine regulations.

    It means there will only be 8 teams left on the grid…. 16 drivers. While there should be 13 teams/26 drivers for a better spectacle and better chances for young talents.

    What Red Bull asks is engine freeze until next regulations (2026). Since nobody wants a 5-year engine freeze, this means that the new regulations will likely be brought forward to maybe 2024. Good for everyone, since maybe then other manufacturers will join either as works team or engine supplier. BTW, Renault also wants an engine freeze and probably Mercedes as well since they’re ahead… so only Ferrari might need some extra tokens to be convinced so they can develop their engine until they catch-up. Not so hard to imagine that is it?

    If not we end up with a grid full of Russian and Chinese money laundering teams who give their seats to their children.

    1. Or we move to 3 car teams and have 24 cars on the grid. Red Bull would sell up rather than just leave though, it would be an ridiculous business move to just walk away.

  22. That’s not what Renault said … but now Horner is trying to justify a reason why all other manufacturers must be happy with an engine freeze for RBR’s sake, just so that they don’t have to go back to Renault hat in hand … and engine freeze which will long in Mercedes advantage & Ferrari disadvantage.

    I wan’t what Horner is smoking.

  23. If Renault were to provide engines to RBR and AT, what is the chance that one of those two (possibly sometimes both) would beat the Renault Factory Team on track? Pretty good.
    Now, put yourself in Cyril Abiteboul’s place and go and explain to the new CEO of Renault / Alpine that your customer, the Fizzy Drinks Guys, are better at designing, building and running a racing team that you are. Not the sort of exercise that keeps the existing team wearing black and yellow gear.
    Renault / Alpine, builds cars and trucks. Lots of cars and trucks. You can bet that they want the world to think they are pretty darn good at it. Better than the Fizzy Drinks crowd.

  24. Michael Freeburn
    25th October 2020, 7:53

    Honda supplied the engine not the car so no it is not a Honda car

Comments are closed.