Red Bull Racing have announced a new innovation partnership with Aston Martin for 2018 and this is to entail a new facility at their Red Bull Racing compound with 100 employees and serious branding from the car maker.
It’s an interesting combination and one that has been going for a while. Red Bull were very keen to keep Adrian Newey—their genius car designer—in the sport but he wanted something different so they worked a deal that would allow him to pull back from the Formula 1 project a little and focus on the Valkyrie hyper car with Aston Martin as a joint project in 2016.
Now it seems that the relationship has taken the next step to a larger branding and marketing role as well as other potential future car projects like the Valkyrie.
“Our innovation partnership with Aston Martin has been a pioneering project from day one,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“Having conceived and created the remarkably successful Aston Martin Valkyrie together in 2016, we extended our relationship this year and are now delighted to further strengthen the partnership and see the team competing as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in 2018.
“In addition, more than 100 Aston Martin staff will service the new Advanced Performance Centre on our campus here in Milton Keynes and it will allow us to collaborate further with Aston Martin on special, equally innovative, new projects.”
The interesting part of this is the rumors of Porsche entering F1 and many feel Red Bull would be a good team to buy in order to start competing at the top level for the VW-owned group. According to a Motorsport Magazine report, Porsche already has an engine program working to possibly enter F1 and many felt buying Red Bull Racing was the best bet.
The slightly confusing part is Aston Martin’s interest given the cost of the engine development and size of the company. Aston Martin isn’t in the same league as VW, Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault to poor R&D dollars into an engine program and yet, many believe that Red Bull Racing will be without an engine deal after next year as Renault will not re-sign an engine supply contract.
There is the possibility of Aston Martin working with Cosworth on a new hybrid engine they are creating but much of that depends on what the new engine regulations will be for 2020 and beyond. According to the same report, the teams are keen to keep the MGU-H (ERS-h) portion of the format in place and why not? It’s not currently a technology offered on any road car and it is a large part of the reason the F1 engines are so efficient these days. It’s also a fortune to make and very difficult to get it right while damning if you get it wrong.
It’s a fine line and I would argue that you can’t tell the teams to take a hike but you have to reduce the cost of engine development and engine supply contracts. They’re too expensive. F1 fans can be forgiven for not caring as much about the outrageous tech as the engineers at Mercedes or Renault. What is there to be outraged by in having a V6 twin-turbo with KERS? That’s a more eco-friendly format than many of the racing series alive with the exception of Formula E and that’s an all-electric series. Maybe they could even standardize the KERS? Yeah, I know…I doubt it too.
So what is Aston Martin doing? Is Porsche serious about taking over Red Bull? IF Aston isn’t making and engine and Porsche isn’t doing anything until 2020, this leaves Red Bull working with Honda in 2019 and perhaps, just perhaps, if Honda come on song, this could be a really good partnership too? Lots of angles and questions, very few answers.