Big news from Formula One, boys and girls, as Red Bull Racing has confirmed that it’s switching to Honda engines starting next season.
The announcement brings to an end a 12-year partnership between Red Bull and Renault, which has supplied its engines since 2007. The two won four back-to-back world championships together, but their relationship began to sour after the performance of the French automaker’s powertrain package started slipping off and fell well behind Mercedes in the current era. These past few seasons, Red Bull (now title-sponsored by Aston Martin) has rebranded Renault’s engines under the TAG Heuer name.
“This multi-year agreement with Honda signals the start of an exciting new phase in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s efforts to compete not just for grand prix wins but for what is always our goal – championship titles,” said team principal Christian Horner. “Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula 1 teams provides enormous potential.”
Honda was the first Japanese manufacturer to get into F1, way back in 1964 – just four years after it started building cars. It left again after 1968, and returned as an engine supplier to teams like Williams, Lotus, and McLaren in the 1980s and early ’90s before it withdrew again. It returned in partnership with the BAR team in 2000, which it took over entirely in 2006, only to sell it to a consortium lead by today’s F1 chief Ross Brawn who won the world championship in 2009 with Jenson Button.
The Japanese automaker returned again as an engine supplier to McLaren in 2015, but after three troubled seasons, McLaren picked up Renault engines instead, and Toro Rosso – Red Bull’s “B-squad” – signed with Honda. That’s apparently been going well enough for Toro Rosso for Red Bull to extend the engine-supply deal to its front-running team for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, and potentially beyond.
“Having two teams means we can access twice as much data as previously,” added Honda president Takahiro Hachigo. “We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and championships, building two strong partnerships.”