Red Bull factory, Milton Keynes, 2021

Red Bull confirms deal to continue using ex-Honda engines until 2025

2022 F1 season

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Red Bull and its sister team AlphaTauri will continue using Honda’s power units until Formula 1’s new engine rules are introduced in 2025, the teams have confirmed.

The move was widely expected following last week’s confirmation Formula 1 had agreed to impose a freeze on power unit development from 2022.

The two teams had been seeking to confirm their future power unit suppliers since Honda announced its plans to withdraw from Formula 1 racing at the end of this season. As reported last week, Red Bull is forming a new company, Red Bull Powertrains, to continue operating the ex-Honda engines. It will be based at their F1 operation in Milton Keynes.

“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,” said Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko.

“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.”

Had Red Bull been unable to continue using Honda’s engines, the team would have faced a return using to Renault power from next season.

“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,” Marko continued. “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.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the establishment of an operation to maintain the Honda engines is “a significant step for Red Bull in its Formula 1 journey”.

“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,” Horner continued. “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.”

In a statement, Honda said it “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 [power unit] technology in F1 after 2021.”

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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...

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28 comments on “Red Bull confirms deal to continue using ex-Honda engines until 2025”

  1. Surely, Red Bull will be hoping to find a completely new manufacturer for 2025+.

    F1 should finalize the 2025 engine specs next year or the year thereafter, so new manufacturers have the opportunity to compete on a fairly equal footing.

    1. Depending on the new engine rules, this could be the start of a genuine Red Bull engine for 2025+…

      1. @racerjoss

        I’m not very hopeful that it will be a cheap/easy engine formula. I doubt that Red Bull is willing to invest that much money.

        1. @aapje F1’s goal for its next pu formula has been expressed as moving to a less complex and expensive one, and sure while not cheap, should be at least more affordable such that the aim is to attract new makers. And I’m sure there will be a spillover of technology from this current format, so the next one won’t be the extreme departure from the norm as the last one was for 2014. Brawn has spoken of something that is a little more plug-and-play. Surprised to hear you say you doubt RBR is willing to spend the money though as they have just invested ‘boldly’ in RB Powertrains to continue making themselves an in-house full operation.

          So I can see their next step being to take a final one and get to that point of making their own, but if not they will be much much better off when they take on their next partner with this new facility. I can see a Porsche/VW or what have you, having been exploring F1 for their future, pending finalization of the 2025 format, happily jumping in with a top team that will have never been more prepared to maximize a marriage.

          1. Not sure that too many manufacturers will want to marry Red Bull after their very public and nasty divorce with Renault.
            I’d bet they’d have spilled the same acid on Honda if they hadn’t got what they wanted. They’ve got form, with drivers too.

          2. S I think that is simply rhetoric based on nothing of any substance. Aside from the fact that Honda, after just as viciously being slammed by Mac during their time together, you’d think making them sensitive to it, had no problem partnering with RBR in spite of the Renault thing, there is the reality that a new maker would likely not even consider such bygones, as they’d only be looking forward. There’s only so many top teams, and RBR have well proved their potency. Surely you don’t think a manufacturer would be sat there thinking gee what if our pu is too weak for them and they start slamming us in the media. Wouldn’t they rather, assuming they’d only be in a conversation because they’re serious, be going into it with every intention to be the best supplier RBR ever had? To enjoy the best merger RBR has ever experienced? And wouldn’t RBR be doing their due diligence to completely suss out the potential of said merger, of said pu?

            No the Renault/RBR thing has nothing to do with what might happen for RBR for 2025, and as to spilling acid on Honda had it not gone better, that’s also pure rhetoric as their’s is an entirely different relationship bereft of the long and complicated history RBR and Renault had together. And as well Honda actually quite quickly brought them a pretty competitive and reliable pu.

          3. @robbie

            I do expect the new formula to be simpler and cheaper, but not so much so that it will make Red Bull want to be an engine manufacturer.

  2. Red Bull to win 2022 championships, book it now :D

    1. It wouldn’t be the 1st time Honda have pulled out on the brink of a championship 😆

  3. I wonder if this will lead into a manufacturer deal before 2025, using the developments of this engine as a base for the next generation. We all know how difficult it is to start from scratch, so getting involved before that time, and gaining experience might be worthy… Who will own the intellectual property after this year? Honda or Red Bull?

    Also, something I always wondered during the last engine freeze. Is it possible for a new manufacturer to enter F1 *during* the engine freeze with a better engine than those racnig today who would then have no chance to counterattack?

    1. @fer-no65

      I wonder if this will lead into a manufacturer deal before 2025, using the developments of this engine as a base for the next generation.

      I get the logic but it’s hard to imagine Honda letting their IP end up with another manufacturer.

      1. I mean, isn’t it technically Red Bull’s IP now?

        Though I agree it wouldn’t make much sense for another car manufacturer to step in using someone else’s design. I’d expect it more likely to be Red Bull acquiring AVL or setting up their own unit based on the IP over the next three years to develop a new engine themselves.

        1. I mean, isn’t it technically Red Bull’s IP now?

          Probably not, based on the wording by Honda (bold mine): “reach an agreement for the two Red Bull-owned teams to use our F1 [power unit] technology in F1 after 2021.” @aiii
          They clearly keep ownership of the IP, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the contract is filled with secrecy/non-disclosure terms.
          Also they state that Red Bull can only use if for F1, which might mean further limitations in the contract.

          1. Fair point.

          2. Yeah, that will have been quite a deliberate choice to do it this way @aiii, @coldfly.

            Imagine say Porsche rocking up to pick up this engine and becoming a winner with Red Bull using an engine basically developed by Honda. That would clearly by a no go.

    2. @fer-no65

      Who will own the intellectual property after this year? Honda or Red Bull?

      I suspect that it is a licensing agreement, rather than a transfer of IP, as Red Bull has no desire to become an engine manufacturer in the long term. So a new manufacturer would either have to buy to IP or get a license as well.

      Is it possible for a new manufacturer to enter F1 *during* the engine freeze with a better engine than those racnig today who would then have no chance to counterattack?

      The only barrier to that seems to be the difficulty of making a competitive engine, which seems prohibitive.

  4. Back to the Mecachrome days I guess…

    1. @jlb What do you mean? Unlikely, If you mean rebranding as the Honda PU will presumably be AVL-branded, given that AVL will partner with Red Bull in the project.

      1. I do not think AVL can partner.. they work with Mercedes currently.
        Its not allowed by the rules.
        For the moment they only support tooling.

  5. It will be the master of ironies if RBR wins the title after Honda leaves.

    Suddenly is 2008/2009 again, and instead of chassis, Honda may see their rebranded engine getting more podiums under RB Powertrains than under Honda bagde itself.

    Long term commitment, Soichiro san…

    1. Only Facts! Possible but less likely after 2021 as Honda are actually leaving at the end of this season. They will not give any technical support to Redbull after that, so until RB develop their own PU or find another supplier they’re on their own. You have heard of the saying “cut of your nose to spite your face” ? I think that’s what has happened here.

      1. @johnrkh Couldn’t disagree more. You don’t know what technical support Honda will leave them with upon providing them their final iteration of pu ahead of the freeze. It might well be extensive. Now they have and will continue to invest in Red Bull Powertrains so yeah they‘ll be able to develop their own pu, or be better prepared than ever to take on another supplier, and will likely get help from an entity such as AVL as well. So I don’t see where the cliche of cutting off their nose to spite their face even comes into it. It’s onward and upward for this team as they head towards growing to being full-factory all-in-house. I think RBR, barring Honda reversing their decision to leave, is doing exactly what they need to do and will be the better for it. What was their alternative? Renault again? Your cliche doesn’t apply.

        1. @robbie Honda has left the building.

          1. @johnrkh Well…not yet lol.

  6. I agree. But I think the Brawn had a engine upgrade in 2009 when it changed from Honda to the Benz PU

  7. It’s a pretty bold and potentially risky move by Red Bull. Even with the IP, there’s quite a bit of expertise required to manufacture a PU from scratch.

    Best example would be Renault who provide the IP but get the actual build components outsourced – their reliability was just not good.

  8. If Honda knew teams would agree to a 2025 engine freeze would they still have left ?

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