Honda and Red Bull logos, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Red Bull watching Honda and Renault’s Canada engine upgrades “with interest”

2018 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admits he will keep a close eye on how Honda and Renault’s power unit upgrades perform at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The team is considering a change of engine supplier for the 2019 F1 season. Red Bull uses Renault engines (branded TAG-Heuer) at present, but junior team Toro Rosso began using Honda power for the first time this year.

Renault began the year concentrating on improving its reliability. Horner is now keen to see what its first performance upgrade produces.

He said he expects to see a step “hopefully around Montreal time [when] there’s a next engine introduction. We’re hoping from a performance increase.”

“Potentially both engine suppliers are bringing an upgrade around Montreal so we wait and see with interest,” he added.

Red Bull began conversations with Honda about a potential engine supply at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Renault wants to know Red Bull’s decision by the end of the month, but Horner reiterated in Spain “there won’t be a decision in May.”

Red Bull’s engine decision could also have a bearing on whether Daniel Ricciardo will remain at the team next year. Asked when Ricciardo’s contract might be settled, Horner said “in an ideal world we’d have it done yesterday.”

“But [we] appreciate that there’s certain things that have to pan out and respect Daniel taking a little bit of time to be comfortable with his decision-making.”

“I think he’s keen to know what our choice of engines is moving forward,” Horner added. “We want to have the most competitive package for next season and seasons beyond that as possible, hence the reason for the time.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 51 comments on “Red Bull watching Honda and Renault’s Canada engine upgrades “with interest””

    1. Honda does have a track record of over-promising for development packages, then massively underachieving. Renault, on don’t really achieve, but they don’t big it up either.

    2. Not sure what Ricciardo’s options are. If Kimi retires or gets replaced I assume it will be by someone like Leclerc. Don’t think Mercedes needs him unless Hamilton retires. I think his only and best option will be to stay with Maxie V.

      1. I think he should go anywhere else, McLaren, Renault… Sure he won’t win a championship there but relations at Red Bull will only get more strained. We’ve seen his door get literally closed when he was faster than Max on the track, that toxic behaviour will only fester.

        I could totally imagine him wearing Alonso’s Kimoa brand at McLaren next year… His attitude would fit that brand to a T and would sell in Australia I reckon given a push – it’s very trendy.

        Just take 1 year deals until something opens up at Ferrari or Mercedes (or back “home” to Red Bull in 2021 if Max moves) and punch above his weight in a slower car until then. Sure there’d be a “what if” if Verstappen wins… But does he really want to do a Webber and let himself get mentally destroyed in a team where there’s a number 1 but “no number 1”?

        1. Tristan, are you suggesting that Ricciardo takes Fernando’s place at McLaren because Fernando goes to Renault? That is of course a possibility…

          1. this is an early start to the silly season

        2. There wont be another championship at RedBull untill 2021. He will be old by then, likeley eclipsed by someone else. He must move now.

          1. @jureo I have to contest that Ricciardo should be classed as ‘old’ in 2021, 32 is prime age for an F1 Driver. Almost 2/3rds of WDC’s have been won by drivers 30 or over.

            1. Most world championships this century were won by guys who started winning them in their twenties. All best drivers of recent history won first WDC well before their Prime. Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel.

              Soon he can only join the ranks of lucky single WDC winners.

      2. If Ricciardo chooses to move, I expect Red Bull to recall Sainz from Renault. He’s a known quantity and a proven driver, and most importantly, driven for a competitor with the same engine as theirs and can provide crucial input on improving the vehicle, assuming they do not switch to Honda. Therefore, Ricciardo could realistically simply swap seats with Sainz.

    3. I think the Honda switch is the quickest, and most sure fire way of Red bull dropping out of the top 3. There’s no way Ricciardo would want to sign with Honda power in the back either… And i think they’ll have a hard time to hang on to Max till 2021 as well.
      A part of me wants Red bull to sign with Honda because Horner’s attitude towards Renault has been disgusting, and it would be fitting payback. It would be quite comical to see how he deals with Honda. There’s no way they would keep a diplomatic front through any troubles.
      Another part of me doesn’t want them to sign with Honda because I’m loving the 3 way battle up front. I just don’t see another team challenging either Ferrari or Mercedes up until 2021, so it would be a shame to see a less competitive Red bull.

      1. It’s a big assumption that the Honda engine will be terrible for Red Bull.

        I still don’t understand why people were so disappointed with the way Red Bull acted in 2015. At that time Renault were making minimal investment and had minimal communication in what was touted the season before to be the potential beginnings of a works relationship.

        Honda is now working with Ilmor who Red Bull put Renault onto reluctantly before making any real gains. There’s potential for a seriously successful relationship. Nothing we’ve seen so far indicates McLaren’s issues the past few years were all on Honda’s side.

        1. @skipgamer

          It’s a big assumption that the Honda engine will be terrible for Red Bull.

          It’s really not. The reason why Honda failed with McLaren is because McLaren were aggressive with their packaging and cooling, and were expecting Honda to deliver a winning power unit within those specific requirements. This is the exact same approach Red Bull will have. They will not compromise on their packaging and cooling, heck, they have more failures with their Renault power units than any other Renault powered team because of it.

          To think that they will adopt Toro Rosso’s approach of telling Honda just make the power unit how they want to and the rest of car will work around it is ridiculous. There’s no way Red bull would adopt that approach. They always put chassis first, and because of that Honda will crumble again.

          Honda has been the back marker power unit ever since it reentered the sport in the early 2000s despite throwing a lot of resources at their power unit projects… I don’t expect that situation to turn around just because Red Bull or Ilmor are working with them.

          1. They will not compromise on their packaging and cooling

            despite having not been the works team for some time?

            1. They still aren’t compromising in 2018. They still have the most aggressive cooling solutions and tightly packaged rear.

            2. @todfod And yet for this reason the Ranault hasn’t crumbled but the Honda motor will?

            3. @davidnotcoulthard

              Renault hasn’t been able to deliver the goods for Red bull either… But Honda is in a league of its own. You just need to look at their performance and reliability stats from 2015 and that should answer your question.

            4. Renault hasn’t been able to deliver the goods for Red bull either

              Wait when did I mention Renault’s performance?

              You just need to look at their performance and reliability stats from 2015

              That’s a bit like saying in the late ’70s/early ’80s “Look at the stats from the last few years the DFVs have dominated despite more people jumping over each other to get turbos”.

              Honda’s been relatively good this year (Toro Rosso’s chassis hasn’t been that good since the RB4/STR3). though to be fair a regression from Honda after getting the public optimistic about them in the post-2014 era wouldn’t be unprecedented.

          2. I don’t expect that situation to turn around just because Red Bull or Ilmor are working with them.

            If they can get along and communicate and build a strong relationship from there, why not? The sky is the limit.

            It’s a completely different partnership and dynamic from both sides. Red Bull were happy to invest resources in developing a strong technical partnership and were willing to help Renault (again by working with Illien and helping develop his concepts). But it was Renault who basically said “no we’ll do it our way thanks” there was a fundamental differences of culture between Renault and Red Bull which led to the falling out. Both sides were very vocal about this.

            On the flip side Honda was under immense pressure from McLaren. McLaren wanted, needed even on track success to reignite business relations. They needed the Cinderella success and even advertised the partnership as a return to the 80’s glory days before the engine was even in the car. Who knows if McLaren even had the ability to foster that partnership.

            I don’t expect massive success either but you can’t honestly expect anything in F1. You work hard and hope for the best. If both sides are willing to do that and they gel, then it makes sense to me.

            1. But it was Renault who basically said “no we’ll do it our way thanks” there was a fundamental differences of culture between Renault and Red Bull which led to the falling out.

              That’s the exact problem they are going to face at Honda. Honda was especially rubbish during the McLaren years because they refused to use external experts to help develop their power unit. They didn’t try poaching from Ferrrari, Mercedes and even Renault. They had a certain sense of pride and ‘know it all’ attitude which didn’t get them anywhere. Finally, last season they hire Illien as a consultant, but it’s doubtful how much of his influence will be there long term. Illien just helped Renault get over some problems but didn’t redesign the entire power unit, which will probably be the case at Honda as well.

              The fact that the main engine operations are still based out of Sakura really alienates Honda from F1. I don’t see Honda suddenly finding a silver bullet and getting a competitive power unit within the next 2 seasons. I also don’t see a team like Red Bull, that started Renault bashing in 2014, just after winning 4 championships in a row, being particularly patient with Honda either.

              I don’t expect massive success either but you can’t honestly expect anything in F1. You work hard and hope for the best. If both sides are willing to do that and they gel, then it makes sense to me.

              Agree. Anything can happen in F1.. but I would give the slimmest of slim chances to Red Bull and Honda making things work.

      2. ?

        There’s no way Ricciardo would want to sign with Honda power in the back either… And i think they’ll have a hard time to hang on to Max till 2021 as well.

        But where can those 2 realistically go then? Ferrari and Mercedes have one seat each but neither wants to upset their lead driver and both have promising incumbents / newcomers in the form of Bottas and Leclerc.

        There are risks relating to going with Honda, no doubt. But risk of losing drivers is not one of them.

        1. If Dan does get an offer from either Merc or Ferrari, then Red bulls switch to Honda would make his decision much easier. If he doesn’t get an offer from either, I’d expect him to stick around at Red bull for another season.

        2. Sorry. Point being a switch to Honda will not make their decision to stick with Red bull any more attractive. But yes, it all depends on whether they get offers anyways.

    4. If Renault wants a decision by the end of the month but Horner wants to wait just to see how the updates perform, Renault should simply make that decesion for them and end the conversation.

    5. This myth of having to be a works team to win will burst pretty soon. McLaren fell and paid for it. Now Red Bull is considering making the same mistake? I’m baffled. It seems like it was yesterday that Franz Tost was self-congratulating on their switch to Honda, and how they were gonna beat McLaren blah blah blah. Now they’re fighting to get in Q2 and an occasional odd point.

      1. @ajpennypacker Aside from BrawnGP, when was the last time non works team win or even a worthy contender for WCC? Red Bull dominates when they’re the de facto Renault works team, same with McLaren-Mercedes.

        1. @sonicslv This is and has always been about money over a long period of time. We could also talk about BMW, Toyota, and Honda, works teams. How well did those teams do? I think they could have all done very well eventually (e.g. fight for championships), but they all called it quits too early. You also forgot that Renault still had a team in 2010 when Red Bull began its domination. Also, since 2016 when Renault became an official ‘works’ team, Red Bull has finished several slots ahead of them in the constructor’s championship. Similarly Mercedes became a ‘work’s team in 2010, but finished behind McLaren-Mercedes in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

          1. @ajpennypacker The point is not works team always do better than non works team, but to have a chance to win you practically must be a works team. There’s a significant difference. If we count RBR in 2010 isn’t works team (Renault practically already sold the team although it still uses Renault GP name), then that’s only 2 team in 17 years since 2000 that able to contend for WCC. Going back to 1990, it raises into 3 or 4 out of 27 depending if you count Bennetton-Ford in 1994 as works team or not.

            On the flip side, there’s many example team performance goes down significantly after they loses works team status: Williams, Sauber, and McLaren for example.

        2. @sonicslv

          Aside from BrawnGP, when was the last time non works team win or even a worthy contender for WCC?

          Benetton in 1995, I think.

          1. Frentzen 1999 with Jordan.

            1. Keyword is WCC, not WDC. Jordan in 1999 is nowhere near the contention for WCC (Ferrari vs McLaren-Mercedes). @wsrgo Benetton-Renault in 1995 in more correct, winning WCC beating Williams-Renault. Also a year before that in 1994 with Bennetton-Ford. Before that we had the Williams-Renault and McLaren-Honda era. I don’t think we need to go back further than that because the sport complexity already evolve too much.

        3. Have to agree with @ajpennypacker on this one

          @sonicslv
          There are tons of examples of when a customer has beaten a Factory team as well.
          Williams (a Mercedes customer) beat Ferrari in 2014. Red Bull (a Renault customer) beat Ferrari in 2016. McLaren (a Mercedes customer) beat Mercedes from 2010 to 2012. As you mentioned, Brawn in 2009 as well.

          There’s definitely no hard and fast rule saying you need to be a works team to win, they have an advantage, but not enough to hold back a strong customer team with an equally efficient power unit. That is the biggest reason why Mercedes and Ferrari are too scared to provide either Red Bull or McLaren with a competitive power unit.

          1. That is the biggest reason why Mercedes and Ferrari are too scared to provide either Red Bull or McLaren with a competitive power unit.

            …that’s the point of not being a customer

            There’s definitely no hard and fast rule saying you need to be a works team to win

            Yes but as others here have said those who do win are most often works teams.

            1. @davidnotcoulthard
              I think you’re missing the point. It’s a competitive power unit that will win you championships.. not the fact that you are a ‘works’ team. The fact that Mercedes and Ferrari are scared to give Red Bull a power unit is proof enough that a customer can win championships with the right engine supplier.

            2. @todfod I see no evidence to suggest a non-works team can win a WCC and WDC in this hybrid format. The examples given above about customer teams succeeding in the past are irrelevant to this current and complex era. Upon the introduction of this new era it can no longer be said that if you slap someone’s good Pu into someone else’s good chassis, you’ll have a chance. That was the case, but hasn’t been since 2014. Brawn has talked about going back to a more plug and play F1 for 2021 and beyond, but that is not the case now and I predict won’t be until then.

              The closest to come is RBR, and I put that down to an anomaly that I call Adrian Newey. And yet, they won’t win other than the odd race either.

            3. @robbie

              I agree that the power units in the current era are complex and at the time they were launched the works teams had massive benefits in understanding them and exploiting them to the fullest. Due to the high rate of development on power units initially, a works team had a massive advantage in knowing what’s coming next and integrating that in to the chassis philosophy as well. But since 2017 these gains and developments are fewer. Even customer teams are know getting a good understanding of these power units. The FIA is ensuring that all customers get the same hardware and software. Essentially, it’s getting back to a plug and play model that we’ve had in the past.

              Which is why I think a Mercedes or Ferrari customer can challenge for the championship. Unfortunately, Red bull is the only team right now that could beat a works team with a Merc or Ferrari power unit. The others can’t really do it for the same reason they couldn’t I the previous era – not enough money to win.

              Also, I don’t see the point in calling Newey an anomaly. At the end of the day he could win a championship even as a customer and that fact shows that it’s not absolutely essential to be a works team to win a championship.

            4. @todfod Good points about customers knowing more and more about these pu’s and about the same hardware and software now. And yeah money is always a factor.

              My point about Newey is that he is special. Ie. it has taken someone special like Newey for a customer team these days to even come close. Without a Newey, and there’s only one, the other teams can’t come close. And even RBR can’t fight for the WDC right now.

              So I do take your point that things might be tightening up, but there is still no evidence that anyone but Mercedes and Ferrari are going to win the big trophies until, imho, the new era, or at least it can be said that up to and including 2018, you had to and have to be a works factory team to have a chance at the WDC and WCC. And if RBR make a switch to Honda and will respectfully needs be given the time to work with and adapt to that change, then for sure it is a Merc/Ferrari only duel for Championships until the new era theoretically shakes things up.

            5. a customer can win championships with the right engine supplier.

              In a world where

              Mercedes and Ferrari are scared to give Red Bull a power unit

              That looks like a bit of a catch-22 to me. @todfod

            6. @davidnotcoulthard

              I agree its a catch 22 situation. My point being that it’s not impossible to win as a customer. The problem is that a truly competitive team won’t receive a good engine from a Mercedes or Ferrari (which are the only engine manufacturers that can land a customer team a championship).

              The point was to highlight that a customer COULD win if it had the right engine. You don’t have to be a works team. You just need to get a Mercedes or Ferrari power unit to have a realistic shot. The fact that neither Merc or Fer would supply that power unit is a different discussion altogether.

            7. The problem is that a truly competitive team won’t receive a good engine from a Mercedes or Ferrari

              Therefore

              impossible to win as a customer.

              simple as that.

              It shouldn’t (ideally) be like that but that’s not what Ron Dennis based his (soon-to-backfire, either that or Zak Brown’s decision will backfire) decision on.

              The point was to highlight that a customer COULD win if it had the right engine. You don’t have to be a works team. You just need to get a Mercedes or Ferrari power unit to have a realistic shot.

              That is a different discussion altogether.

          2. @todfod I think you missing the point. It’s not whether all works team finished ahead of all customer team, but if you a customer team, you probably won’t beat the works team and even if you beat them, there more likely another works team that beat you. History showed in the last 27 years, only 4 times customer team winning WCC. It’s not coincidence, it’s because being works team has definite advantage compared to customer team, including not supplying a team that might beat them.

      2. To be fair McLaren is only up in points because of Alonso. If you look at van Doorne en Gasly both cars seems to be equal and perhaps the STR is even better. I wonder how Alonso would do in the STR. Regardless I feel it is better to work with a company that is committed to you as a costumer not one that see you as a annoying obligation

    6. It will be interesting to see if Renault actually bring a performance upgrade to Canada. Their history of actually doing what they say is “patchy” to say the least, usually led by Cyril saying “we made no such promise” or “we felt it was important to focus on reliability”.

      I get the feeling that even if they do, it may not be for all it’s customer teams, or all cars for all those teams, because they don’t seem to be all that good at ensuring enough parts are available.

    7. If Renault actually manage to upgrade their 2016 MGU-K unit before 2021, I’ll be impressed.

    8. I think the choice is clear. Switch to Honda or say goodbye to WCC ambitions. The logic Ron Dennis used in 2013 to justify switch to Honda – ‘As a customer team, you will never win, as a works team, you might just’ – still holds true. Red Bull need to be a works team in order to fight against Ferrari and Mercedes.

      Honda’s performance is not as dreadful as every Mclaren sympathizer wants you to believe. Yes, they are 4th among the the 4 suppliers, but they are not GP2, there is no daylight between the top 3 and them. The minor downside of moving from Renault power to Honda power will easily get compensated by the benefits of being a works team.

      1. ‘As a customer team, you will never win, as a works team, you might just’

        That statement definitely held more value through 2014 to 2016 than is does now. Now the statement should be ‘You need a championship winning power unit to win a championship’. It’s as simple as that. If the Renault power unit had slightly better performance and reliability, Red bull would be fighting for the championahip regardless of being a customer.

        If Red bull had a Mercedes Power unit they would have beaten Ferrari in almost every season on the hybrid era. I’m fairly certain they would have been up there if not ahead of Mercedes as well. So, it’s untrue to say that a customer will win the championship.

        I think Mclarens decision to dump Honda and become a Renault customer, and start performing well straight away is proof enough

        1. and start performing well straight away

          They’ve improved but I wouldn’t call them performing well. I think they’re more or less on what I remember to be 2013 levels and that’s not a year remembered fondly in terms of their performance afaik (especially after a year when HAM was accused of being bribed into a Mercedes seat).

          That said 2012 was indeed a close call. Still the general trend would’ve largely been than by far most WCC winners in recent decades (I guess…at least after Chapman died since DFV domination ended not too far from that point in time?) have been works teams.

        2. @todfod I think RBR is a bit of an exception because of Adrian Newey. RBR is potent in spite of being a customer, because of him. That is obvious when we see no other customer team even coming close to Merc and Ferrari in this current format, including Renault themselves as a works team. Merc and Ferrari have a healthy respect for Newey and have seen what RBR are capable of because of him. So for them to have supplied RBR, they would have needed to have more compensation for that risk, as in, a global marketing campaign between RBR and Merc, and that was part of the downfall of Merc not supplying RBR. They just didn’t see the upside in feeding Newey their Pu, for little marketing impact with so little time to hammer that out when a potential switch due to RBR’s unhappiness with Renault came up.

          I hope to see RBR stay with Renault, because they’re at least pretty competitive, and with a few tweeks in the aero regs, or some different tires, who knows. But if they switch to Honda I think it will just remain a Merc/Ferrari works team battle until 2021, unless Renault as a works team can really step it up. I think Renault should be a team DR should consider.

      2. Honda’s performance is not as dreadful as every Mclaren sympathizer wants you to believe

        it isn’t but I still doubt it wasn’t.

    9. They don’t understand it, don’t they? Renault already gave them another two weeks to decide. By the end of May they must decide. But the Canadian GP is set on 10th of June.

    10. Sonny Crocket
      17th May 2018, 9:12

      Renault should bring the upgrade but only for themselves and McLaren. Red Bull can then observe whether there is any improvement without benefiting from it themselves.

      How do you like those eggs, Mr. Horner?!

      1. That’s Spicy, Girl! ;-)

    Comments are closed.