Red Bull confirms deal for Honda F1 engine takeover


Red Bull will continue using its Honda Formula 1 power unit beyond this season after agreeing to take the operation in-house

Red Bull and Honda F1 jackets

Red Bull

Red Bull will continue to use Honda’s F1 engine beyond the end of this season, after finalising an agreement to operate the hybrid unit.

The Japanese company announced its withdrawal from Formula 1 last year, leaving Red Bull and its sister team, AlphaTauri, without an engine supplier.

Since then, the parties have been working on an agreement for Red Bull to take the operation in-house and produce the Honda-designed power units for both teams.

The final obstacle was removed last week when F1 teams unanimously agreed an engine development freeze.

It means that Red Bull can feasibly take on the commitment while remaining competitive, as power units cannot be developed until the next set of regulations are introduced in the middle of the decade. The team had suggested it would leave F1 unless the freeze was agreed.

“This agreement represents a significant step for Red Bull in its Formula 1 journey”

A new division will now be formed: Red Bull Powertrains Limited, which will operate from the team’s Milton Keynes base.

“This agreement represents a significant step for Red Bull in its Formula 1 journey,” said team principal, Christian Horner. “We were understandably disappointed when Honda made the decision to leave the sport as an engine manufacturer, as our relationship yielded immediate success, but we are grateful for their support in facilitating this new agreement.

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“Honda has invested significantly in hybrid technology to ensure the supply of competitive power units to both teams. We now begin the work of bringing the power unit division in-house and integrating the new facilities and personnel into our Technology Campus. In the meantime, we are fully focused on achieving the best possible results in what will be Honda’s final season as an official power unit supplier.”

A Honda-Red Bull agreement was always likely, as the alternative was consigning the power unit to a museum: the Formula 1 technology is not immediately transferrable to other series, particularly given Honda’s shift to focus on zero-emission technology.

Now the question is whether the new Red Bull engine division is more than just a stop-gap measure. The next set of engine regulations, expected in 2025, will include a “significant cost reduction”, which may give Red Bull the encouragement to pursue its own engine programme, and end the uncertainty of relying on a third-party supplier.

“The establishment of Red Bull Powertrains Limited is a bold move by Red Bull but it is one we have made after careful and detailed consideration,” said Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motor sport advisor. “We are aware of the huge commitment required but we believe the creation of this new company is the most competitive option for both teams.

“We have been discussing this topic with Honda for some time and following the FIA’s decision to freeze power unit development from 2022, we could at last reach an agreement regarding the continued use of Honda’s hybrid power units. We are grateful for Honda’s collaboration in this regard and for helping to ensure that both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri continue to have competitive power units.”

Honda said that the deal was the right thing to do for the sport and fans. “Honda is pleased that, following our decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021, we have been able to reach an agreement for the two Red Bull-owned teams to use our F1 PU technology in F1 after 2021,” said brand and communication officer Koji Watanabe.

“We are fully committed to our goal of Honda being carbon neutral by 2050, which is why we are diverting our F1 resources to this new target. However, as a company that has been involved in Formula 1 for several decades, we felt it was the right thing to do to help our two current teams and indeed the sport as a whole.

“By allowing Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri to use our F1 PU technology it should ensure they can race competitively, which is also good for the sport and the fans.”