The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, believes his team finally have full control over their Formula One destiny now they will manufacture their own engines. The decision to create a brand new powertrain division within the team will put Red Bull on a level playing field with the other engine manufacturer teams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, said Horner.
Red Bull’s current engine manufacturer Honda will leave the sport at the end of 2021. On Monday Red Bull announced they would take over the technology from Honda to manufacture the power units themselves at their headquarters in Milton Keynes in a newly created Red Bull powertrain division.
Horner was emphatic that having their own in-house bespoke-built engine was a major step forward for the team in their attempt to challenge once more for the world championship.
“We have taken control of our own destiny, in respect of integrating power unit with chassis,” he said. “It puts us on an even keel with the likes of Mercedes, the likes of Ferrari and Renault. You would have never thought we could have done what we’ve managed to achieve over the years with the chassis. The challenge now is to try and replicate that within the power unit.”
Red Bull enjoyed huge success with Renault as it engine partner, winning four driver and constructor title doubles between 2010 and 2013. However since the introduction of the V6 turbo-hybrid in 2014 they have not challenged for the championship. The period since has been completely dominated by Mercedes whose engine has played a major part in their success.
Red Bull dropped Renault in 2019, becoming a works partner with Honda, whose engine has made significant steps forward. However, when the manufacturer announced it was to pull out of F1, Red Bull’s future was in doubt. There was conviction that the team could not compete at the front using a customer engine and Horner admitted that the likelihood of Red Bull’s participation in F1 would have been “seriously diminished” if they had been unable to achieve engine manufacture independence.
Engine development will be frozen from 2022 to 2025 when new regulations will be imposed and Horner emphasised that their decision was indicative of his team’s competitive intent.
“The level of investment required to do this means that it has to be a long-term project,” he said. “It needs to be something that we take on beyond the existing regulations. It shows a commitment from Red Bull and that [owner] Dietrich Mateschitz is not afraid of risk.”
Last year Red Bull were the only team to threaten the Mercedes hegemony and they ended strongly with Max Verstappen taking a pole to flag win at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi. It was the first time Mercedes have not won there since the turbo-hybrid era began and cause for optimism at Red Bull.
“We demonstrated at Abu Dhabi that Mercedes are beatable at a track they have been unbeaten at for the past six or seven years,” said Horner. “We just need to be able to do that across the season. We are gathering momentum.”
Honda will develop the engine for the rest of this year and new technical regulations will come in to play in 2022 when Red Bull are hopeful their in-house chassis-powertrain operation will bear significant fruit.