The Red Bull engine charity

McLaren team boss, Eric Boullier, clarified the team’s position regarding Honda, their engine partner, and Red Bull discussing a power unit supply for 2016.

“Clearly there is an issue inside Red Bull, created by Red Bull and not by anybody else, and we are not a charity foundation, so we are not here to help.”

Clearly the team isn’t a charity, at least not one intended to help Red Bull Racing and their current lack of a lump for 2016. On the other hand, is it McLaren’s place to determine who gets help and who doesn’t?

Some stories have suggested that McLaren’s team boss, Ron Dennis, vetoed the idea of Honda supplying Red Bull in 2016 and that he had a veto ability although the FIA have a contract with Honda to supply two teams next year.

Whether or not that is the case, Boullier’s comments seem to suggest that they do have some control in the situation as he claims they are not a charity but McLaren isn’t the engine manufacturer so if McLaren had no say, why the comment?

Is Honda a good option?

Ultimately, you may be asking if Honda is a good option to begin with. The fact is, they will have full tokens to spend on development and in-season development just like Red Bull’s current partner, Renault, and given engine performance, right now Renault is ahead of Honda in performance.

The Renault relationship may be damaged beyond repair as the manufacturer is now focused on their acquisition of Lotus and the thought of becoming a full works team in 2016. This may be a closed door for 2016 as far as Red Bull is concerned but what options are there?

If Red Bull is working on a bigger engine supply deal with VW or others, is the 2015 Ferrari power unit a bad idea for 2016? Sure, running last year’s engines may not seem like a great idea but if your focus is on 2017 with a new engine partner, what could it hurt?

The fact is, this year’s Ferrari is better than the Renault or Honda and may just be as good as next year’s version of both. It doesn’t sound like the kind of thing Red Bull Racing would want but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Honestly, Honda would benefit from having two teams helping with development and McLaren is right to be worried about Red Bull’s resources and chassis-genius of Adrian Newey. It’s a question of Honda committing to McLaren or committing to their own F1 supply program.

If I am Honda, I want the best engine in F1 and having two big teams with resources to make a great chassis on my team.

Mercedes a new option?

Manor’s executive management exodus is an interesting twist to the story as well as Mercedes used this supply contract as a way of justifying the denial of supplying Red Bull.

The fact is, I don’t think Mercedes or Ferrari have any interest in supplying Red Bull out of fear that they have the talent and resources to beat them with their own engine. Merc found the Manor issue convenient but Manor doesn’t make it to 2016, what will the new excuse be?

FIA to the rescue?

The FIA says unless the manufacturers reduce the engine supply contract cost, they will offer a new engine supply tender for a new format lump that will be balanced for power, less expensive and competitive.

This may be of interest to Red Bull if they can be the first customer and impact the Balance of Power regulations in their favor. If Ross Brawn were at the helm of Red Bull, he’d work with the FIA to get the new engine format to a point where it was actually very competitive and then with Newey’s genius, the chassis would magically come on song a race or two into the season making the new engine a dominant player.

End Game

It is far from resolved but if Manor leaves, Merc has no excuse not to supply Red Bull. If Honda wants to put their F1 interests ahead of McLaren’s, then they have no excuse not to supply but given their performance, arguably Red Bull would be taken yet a further step backward they they have with Renault.

If the Renault relationship can be salvaged, then that might be the best option should Red Bull really have a new engine partner coming for 2017 and if not, perhaps the FIA’s new engine tender could offer a new and potentially competitive program that they can be instrumental in helping develop the competitive balance of power in.

It remains to be seen what will happen but lets get the popcorn out and watch the bizarre shenanigans and goings on.


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Paul KieferJr

Last I checked, per a previous article (not sure if it was here or elsewhere), Ron Dennis said Honda implied that it was interested in supplying only one team. Whether that was written in the contract somewhere or just simply stating something that was said, it implies that Ron had the final authority to say what Honda can and can’t do this year or perhaps next year. Either way, that was the end of it as far as Honda vs. McLaren was concerned, and Ron didn’t think it was right for Honda to change its mind about what commitments it… Read more »

Jamie Huntoon

Honda does not want to supply Red Bull with a engine and have asked McLaren to be the “bad cop” so that Honda save face.

Charles Clemen