Red Bull racing have confirmed they are to drop their current engine provider Renault at the end of the 2018 season, after signing a two year deal to be powered by Honda for 2019 and 2020.
Honda, who already supply the Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, will now supply their power units to Red Bull as well, essentially making Red Bull a “works team” for the first time in their history in Formula 1.
Renault have been the engine provider for Red Bull for the last twelve seasons and have enjoyed success with them including 4 drivers and constructors championships, 57 wins, and a staggering 113 podiums. The split however comes after several seasons of highly strained tensions between the Red Bull camp and Renault following a string of disappointing on track results.
Following the introduction of the new engine regulations in 2014, Renault have been down on power and reliability compared to their counterparts at Mercedes and Ferrari, prompting harsh criticism from Red Bull.
The relationship was brought to the brink of divorce in 2015, when after a winless season, Red Bull considered an early termination of its contract with Renault. It was only due to other engine suppliers turning them down, that Bull were forced to carry on the bitter relationship with their engine supplier Renault. A new deal was negotiated between Red Bull and Renault for 2016, but this felt like the beginning of the end for the partnership
The confirmation of the Red Bull-Renault divorce is the latest instalment of F1’s recent engine merry-go-round.
In 2017 after three disappointing seasons together McLaren made the decision to break off their partnership with Honda, and switch to Renault power instead, in order to boost their competitiveness. Junior outfit Toro Rosso were selected by Red Bull to give up their supply of Renault engines in order to switch to the Honda engine instead.
Honda has enjoyed the opportunity of a recovery campaign with Toro Rosso conducted with far less expectation and pressure than they had experienced with McLaren. And ultimately the gains they have made on their power unit over the season so far has been enough to sway Red Bull into coming over.
“This multi-year agreement with Honda signals the start of an exciting new phase in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s efforts to compete not just for grand prix wins but for what is always our goal – championship titles,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team. We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own.”
Horner also added: “We would like to thank Renault for the past 12 years, a period during which we experienced some incredible moments together. We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit.”