Potential Audi Partnership Reportedly Caused Friction Between Red Bull and Honda Over F1 Engine Takeover

Published 02/05/2021, 6:44 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the race Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace


Red Bull are expecting positive news regarding their engine freeze proposal. An engine freeze halts the development of engines for a period of time.

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Red Bull is lobbying for support in this proposal from the other engine suppliers in Formula One. The proposal seeks to keep the development levels of all four engine suppliers, Mercedes, Honda, Renault, and Ferrari, at the 2022 level.

The 2022 engine will adapt the 2021 engine for e10 petrol, keeping the performance levels of these four engines more or less even.

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The year 2025 will see the introduction of a new engine formula. So, Red Bull would have the required infrastructure and capital to further develop their engine year-on-year.

Red Bull is embroiled in negotiations with Honda

On February 11, the Formula 1 Commission will essentially be deciding Red Bull’s fate with regards to engine development. If the decision is positive, it will be seen as the first step towards Red Bull becoming self-sufficient in developing its engine.

According to reports, the team‘s negotiations with Honda are over. The negotiations include the takeover of the intellectual property of the Japanese V6 engine along with its hybrid drive.

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – JULY 27: Second place qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 27, 2019 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

The Japanese company allegedly was very stubborn in negotiations. They wanted to protect their data on construction from third parties and future manufacturers.

This was the case as rumors started about Audi entering the sport in 2025. If Audi were to enter in 2025, the most logical conclusion is that they would collaborate with Red Bull.

“According to our information, Honda wanted to make sure that data and construction details were not passed on to third parties or future engine partners. Apparently, word got around as far as Tokyo that Audi was interested in Formula 1 entry from 2025. A collaboration with Red Bull is obvious,” reads a report from Auto Motor und Sport.

The main conundrum of implementing an engine freeze

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For this proposal to go through, engine manufacturers will seek assurances that the performance levels of all the engines will be on level terms. They would not want to stay put for three years without being able to rectify their engine.

The main question is whether the better engines get scaled back or the worse teams are allowed to get their engine up to acceptable levels.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 28: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 28, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

A certain form of balance of performance (BOP) has to be implemented. This would only be a temporary measure and would probably lure new engine manufacturers to the sport.

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It is also a very optimal solution to many dissenting opinions within F1. Red Bull could use this to their advantage. Maybe soon they will catch up to Mercedes.

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Ashish Thomas

211 articles

Ashish Thomas is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having followed motorsports since age 5, Ashish holds an enviable knowledge of F1 history. Ashish holds extensive experience in sports writing, having previously worked for SportsQuest and Fansided.

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