As the 2015 Formula One season drew to a close, Red Bull secured a sponsorship deal with iconic timing brand TAG Heuer, which will also take up naming rights of the team’s power unit.
The 2016 car will officially be called the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12, which does have a slightly stranger ring to it than this year’s Infiniti Red Bull Racing-Renault RB11. At the same time, TAG Heuer will become the Official Timekeeper, Official Watch Partner and Team Performance Partner of RBR.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner finally opened up about the deal, saying that “TAG Heuer and Red Bull are two transcendent brands which have both a passion for racing and a drive to do things differently, and this unique collaboration is further evidence of that. TAG Heuer has been an icon in the world of Formula One for many years and we’re delighted that they’ve chosen to continue their association with the sport by teaming up with us.”
Horner also talked about their “other partner”, mentioning how pleased his team is to “see Renault confirm its long-term commitment to F1 and would like to thank them for their contribution to the team since 2007. Their technical partnership with Ilmor gives us confidence, and we look forward to the 2016 season.”
If you think it’s a little bit weird to see a team name contain two different brands instead of the classic “brand plus engine manufacturer name” format, all you have to do is look back to the 80s when McLaren actually ran TAG Heuer-badged Porsche engines for a couple of seasons.
A very interesting aspect we should consider is the fact that Toro Rosso just completed their 2016 engine deal with Ferrari, which means that even though they’ll be racing with an older engine (2015-spec), that Ferrari unit would presumably give them more horsepower than their current Renault unit.
What this means is that Red Bull and Toro Rosso might actually end up racing each other directly and that’s going to be extremely exciting to watch.