If I had to sum it, it might go like this:
- Honda announces they are through with F1 but have agreed to supply Red Bull’s two teams through 2022.
- That only works for Red Bull if there is an engine freeze in development as the series waits for a complete power unit regulations change possibly in 2025 because Red Bull isn’t an engine manufacturer and can’t afford to develop engines the way Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can
- If this freeze isn’t agreed to, then Red Bull will seriously reconsider their F1 program entirely and some have taken that as “blackmail” according to a report in Autosport
- Mercedes is keen for a freeze and why wouldn’t they be? They have a baked-in advantage
- Ferrari initially balked but have agreed and now the only manufacturer with an issue is Renault
Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisory, said:
“Everything has been clarified between us,” he told German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
“The timing is fixed. Everyone is in the starting blocks. But there won’t be an okay until we have written proof from the FIA that the development stop on the engine side is coming.
“We are waiting for the FIA’s decision. There should be clarification on that next week.”
This means that Honda is ready to supply current engines through 2022 but they won’t be developing them in that time period.
Marko also makes the point that there is a cost cap and that further development of these engines would be a serious burden on that cap. He’s right unless you’re a manufacturer.
Here is the deal, I don’t take this as blackmail, I take this as a very real issue and while many say, “just use Renault engines”, they forget the past history the two organizations have with each other. While Cyril Abiteboul is no longer at Renault, the wounds may be deeper than just Cyril and Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
Red Bull leaving F1 would be huge and while many fans said, “don’t let the door hit you in the backside on your way out” a few years ago when they were threatening to leave the sport over Renault’s issues and the denial of a supply deal from Ferrari or Mercedes, I made a case at just how devastating that would be to F1.
Red Bull, like them or not, do more for F1 than many other teams combined including some of the major manufacturers. F1 needs Red Bull as the premier privateer in the series and they should do all they can to assist Red Bull in securing a bright future in the sport.
There, I said it. I know that may not be popular and you can accuse me of being a fan boy but everyone knows I am a Ferrari fan so this comes from an unbiased side of my logical thinking. If you remove your emotional bias towards other teams or against Red Bull and look at the money they invest in the series, you get a picture of just how big their footprint is on the sport.
Sure, there is no indispensable team but Red Bull is a big portion of what makes F1 work right now with marketing, two teams, a circuit, an Austrian GP and much, much more.
I know freezing engines may not be popular but F1 got itself into this bind where privateers can’t participate with their own engine supplies due to the outrageous tech involved. When Mercedes and Ferrari deny them an engine supply and there is no confidence that Renault can provide a competitive engine, what else can they do?
This, and the cost cap, is why F1 needs to get back to an affordable engine so teams like Williams, Haas, Red Bull, Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin and even McLaren can compete with a reasonable budget and with an affordable engine.
F1 can’t afford to lose two teams and the kind of investment Red Bull makes in the sport. It also needs the sport’s privateers. It needs to assist Red Bull and hopefully Stefano Domenicali can do just that.