Red Bull set to keep Honda power unit after F1 engine freeze is agreed


F1 engine development will be frozen after teams reached an agreement in a move that may have kept Red Bull in the series

RB16, 2020 Belgian GP parc ferme

Red Bull can continue to run Honda power units after today's vote


Formula 1 has agreed that engine development will be frozen until the introduction of fresh power unit regulations, clearing the way for Red Bull to continue using its Honda power units.

In an F1 commission meeting today, teams unanimously agreed to prevent further development of the current hybrid power units until the introduction of the next set of engine regulations.

Red Bull was relying on the motion to pass, following the announcement that Honda would end its involvement in F1 at the end of this year. The Milton-Keynes team has an agreement to take over the power unit, but says that it does not have the resource to develop it further.

Without an engine freeze, Red Bull and its sister team, AlphaTauri said that they would consider their future in Formula 1, as they were unwilling to buy a different engine, or be left behind as rivals upgraded their power units.

The engine freeze must now be rubber-stamped by the FIA’s World Motor Sport council before coming into force. No system has been agreed upon to equalise performance yet.

“In a significant development for the sport that reflects the unity and collaborative spirit between the FIA, Formula 1 and the teams, a vote on the freeze of Power Unit development was undertaken during the meeting, and the proposal was unanimously agreed by all teams and Power Unit Manufacturers,” An F1 statement said. “As such, engine development will be frozen from the start of 2022.”

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Along with the engine freeze, teams also discussed future engine regulations set to be introduced in 2025. Key aims were agreed upon that included: sustainability and social and automotive relevence, fuel sustainability, powerful and emotive power units, cost reduction and attractiveness to new power unit manufacturers.

During the Commission meeting, teams also discussed the possibility of introducing sprint races to the schedule in 2021 which received positive feedback.

Plans to run an experimental format at three races this year are in the works but no formal agreement has been reached yet, though after today’s talks, an eventual trial during the upcoming season is not off the table.

For the plans to become official, 28 votes are needed out of a possible 30, with 20 of those split evenly between the FIA and F1 and the rest distributed to teams at one apiece.

Earlier this week, new Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali confirmed that plans for a reverse-grid qualifying race would not go ahead anymore after the idea failed to gain unanimous support amongst the teams.

A discussion over further calendar changes was also held and the return of the Portuguese Grand Prix was confirmed. F1 is aiming to stage the race on May 2 to fill the former TBC slot for round three of the season.

Last year, Portimao hosted the first race in the country since 1996 and was regarded as a successful event.

Talks focused on the implementation of a salary cap were also held. F1 said a commission would be formed including drivers to discuss contracts for senior team members, drivers and management.