While the partnership ended rather acrimoniously in 2017, it now appears the bosses of both F1 teams are open to working together.
Renault and Red Bull ended their partnership in 2017 but are now open to working together in F1
Honda’s exit from the Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season means that the Red Bull team and its sister AlphaTauri team will be left without an engine when the sport enters a new era of regulations in 2022. This has opened the door for Red Bull to rekindle its old partnership with Renault with who it won four world titles at the turn of the last decade. While the partnership ended rather acrimoniously in 2017, it now appears the bosses of both F1 teams are open to working together with each – and not just being forced to come together because of the unfortunate circumstances.
“If we have certain obligations we will comply, but all our efforts and everything we do should revolve around this strategic objective, which is to be in a position to win races for the benefit of the build-up and ramp-up of the Alpine brand,” said Cyril Abiteboul, the managing director of Renault’s F1 unit indicating that supplying the two Red Bull teams wouldn’t be an issue and at the same time, it wouldn’t hamper its own plans with its works Alpine team. Even Red Bull’s Christian Horner has seemingly cooled down after having rather a tumultuous relationship with Abiteboul in the last five years since the sport entered the hybrid engine era in 2014.
“Of course I understand why people assume that we will talk to Renault. Since the separation, Renault has changed. The new board brings a lot of fresh wind and some changes. Things are moving forward,” said Horner to Servus TV.
Red Bull would also be more open to a Renault partnership again as its engine has now become quite competitive and can be perhaps be rated as the second best in F1 after the Mercedes unit.
As the sporting regulations stand, if Red Bull isn’t able to figure out alternative engine supply, Renault will be obliged to supply engines to Red Bull as it wouldn’t be supplying even a single team outside of its works unit from 2021 onwards.
As Abiteboul notes, the entry of a new engine supplier is highly unlikely and even if that were to happen, it wouldn’t be competitive. Though if Honda were willing to share its IP or sell it, that would represent a viable alternative for Red Bull to adapting its chassis to Renault’s power unit.
But Red Bull needs closure on this by the end of the year as it has to close the development for the design of the engine for the new 2022 cars that will be based on new aerodynamic regulations.
“We need clarity by the end of the year. Of course, we have to consider all possibilities, all options. But in the end, Mr [Dietrich] Mateschitz must decide how to proceed. But it is important for us to have enough power to challenge Mercedes in the coming years,” revealed Horner to Servus TV.
Honda has also indicated a willingness to help Red Bull in the interest of the great relationship both teams have shared in the last couple of years.
Red Bull shifted to Honda engines as partially it desired a works status with the manufacturer. Renault wouldn’t have provided that as its priorities laid in its own works team.
Even if Red Bull were to fall back on Renault, it would be back to square one for the team. Getting a Mercedes and Ferrari engine would be harder as those teams already have engine supply contracts in place and would likely be cagey about supplying to Red Bull considering its well-known ability to have one of the best chassis on the grid.
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