Christian Horner has taken another subtle dig at Renault F1, simultaneously praising new supplier Honda for their performance. According to Horner, Honda delivered what they promised to Red Bull Racing.
It’s another blow to Renault’s engine reputation. Despite being untouchable from 2010-13, Renault has played catch up in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Their only customer, McLaren, has announced a new engine partnership with Mercedes from 2021.
Renault and Red Bull Racing’s uneasy marriage
Red Bull partnered with Renault back in 2008. Between 2010-13, the partnership won four drivers and constructor championships. However, since 2014 Red Bull struggled to contend in an era dominated by Mercedes F1. Renault’s reliability wasn’t enough to satisfy Red Bull. The team was generally winning races owing more to Mercedes errors than their performance.
Between 2017-18, the team suffered 24 retirements over two seasons. Particularly bad stretches included three consecutive retirements for Max Verstappen in 2017. Daniel Ricciardo suffered 3 retirements in 4 races in 2017, and four in six retirements in 2018.
Red Bull openly expressed their displeasure, going as far as to state Renault weren’t supplying engines meriting the payment. In mid 2018, Red Bull finally announced an engine supply deal with Honda, ending its association with Renault.
Turning to Honda F1 for engines
Honda returned to Formula One in 2015. Their initial partnership with McLaren F1 was far from promising. McLaren-Honda languished at the back of the grid, plagued by reliability problems and underwhelming performance capabilities. This made Red Bull’s calling for Honda engines a surprise.
The 2019 season, worked wonders for both parties. Red Bull was contending once again without reliability issues. Honda showcased their true potential, pleasing the Red Bull management. More importantly for both, Max Verstappen is currently happy with both team and engine supplier. Speaking on the new partnership, Christian Horner commented on the changed reality.
“This is the first year where everything that was promised was absolutely delivered. And it’s just a different environment, it’s a different type of partnership.
It’s a true partnership, and you can see what it means to Honda when they get a result when they get a pole position and they get a victory; the emotion, the pride, the satisfaction throughout the whole business.
There’s been just one minor disagreement between the parties. Honda takes a very cautious approach with regard to engine power and optimization. Understandably based on their performance over the last few years. However, it is a minor disagreement, as overall both parties are satisfied with their season.
Red Bull scored 3 victories and saw Max Verstappen take third in the championship. Torro Rosso, additional customers for Honda took a couple of podiums as well. Overall, Horner has said that the partnership between Red Bull, Honda, and their fuel partner Exxon Mobil has worked wonderfully across all circuits this season.
Christian Horner on the future for Red Bull Racing and Honda
The focus on 2020 is to deliver Max Verstappen a title-winning package. The Dutchman is a generational talent. He’s out of contract after 2020. To continue having Verstappen drive for them, they need to ensure a powerful race package is developed for a 2020 Title challenge.
Honda will also have to ensure there are no slip-ups. An unhappy Red Bull is a very vocal critic and can create a largely negative image. 2020 could be the defining year of this fledgling partnership.
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