Nürburg (AP) – Red Bull driver Max Verstappen does not have to fear a relapse into the Stone Age.
“I hope I don’t end like Fred Feuerstein”, the Dutchman joked in view of the departure of engine partner Honda at the end of the 2021 season. “I just concentrate on what I have to do and that means the car with one engine. To get in the back as fast as possible. ”In the animated series” The Flintstones “around title hero Fred Feuerstein, the Stone Age automobiles were powered with their own legs, the wheels were rollers of stone.
The Japanese manufacturer’s exit announcement, which had only returned in 2015, shocked Red Bull and its sister team Alpha Tauri last week. It was a hammer for the whole Formula 1. Honda no longer wants to afford the billion dollar commitment, the corona pandemic with production stops and profit declines in the auto industry probably fueled this plan. The funds must be invested in research and development of future engines. Top priority: Honda wants to be climate neutral by 2050.
“You have to consider all possibilities, you have to be open to all possibilities”, assured Red Bull team principal Christian Horner at the edge of the Grand Prix of the Eifel at the Nürburgring. He wants to make a decision about the new drives before the end of the year. What options does Red Bull have?
One possibility would be that energy drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz’s top race team will provide itself and its sister team with their own rides from 2022. A variant of this would be for Red Bull to take over the Honda infrastructure and take advantage of their know-how. It was going to be an expensive project. Honda race director Masashi Yamamoto was willing to speak to the team in the future. In whatever form.
Mercedes categorically rules out an engine partnership with Red Bull. “No,” replied Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff to a corresponding question. “We’re almost at the point where we can’t even make power sources for all of us, so there’s no capacity.”
Mercedes drives its own engines, and future work team Aston Martin and backbenchers Williams are getting rides. McLaren will be added from 2021. “That narrows the choice to currently two outfitters in the sport,” commented Horner, who has made significant progress in the world championship fight since partnering with Honda for the 2019 season.
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A return to Ferrari would also be an option. Red Bull was a customer of the Italians in 2006 before switching to Renault; Alpha Tauri (formerly called Toro Rosso) even had Scuderia drives in the back from 2007 to 2013 and 2016. But the same applies to Ferrari as to Mercedes: why should I supply a direct World Cup competitor?
According to team boss Mattia Binotto, Ferrari has not yet faced a Red Bull scenario. “It’s something we need to think about,” he said. “A team like Red Bull is not a standard customer”, Horner commented, “our goals are extremely high, we want to win”. And for that you need a powerful engine.
Another return to Renault. From 2010 to 2013, star rider Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull and the French had won all world titles as motorcycle suppliers. Renault’s transition to the hybrid era failed, but they divorced in a dispute after the 2018 season. “Renault is now a different organization than the last time you supplied us,” Horner said, approaching the factory team publicly. “They have a new CEO (Luca de Meo) who seems enthusiastic about Formula 1, which is good to see.” Renault should therefore be seen as a “possible supplier for the future”.
The Red Bull / Alpha Tauri case illustrates a problem in Formula 1: the engine regulations deter potential buyers. Too complicated, too expensive. Both car companies and private motorcycle manufacturers want to earn a decent income. According to information from “Auto, Motor und Sport”, a strategy meeting of the team bosses, with president of the world association Jean Todt and representatives of Formula 1 owner Liberty Media, will take place within two weeks after the Grand Prix in Portimao, Portugal.
Honda is gone – Verstappen from Red Bull soon? Horner rejected speculation that the 23-year-old, who was officially contracted until the end of 2023, could get out ahead of time due to a motorcycle clause. He did not want to talk about contractual details, the Briton said. “But I can say that Max is fully committed to the team, he is in the same situation as us and does not want to participate in the soapbox race in the future.”