In an interview with Race Fans, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has defended the team’s decision to go to Honda. After the first 10 races, Red Bull made its best start to the season since the advent of the V6 hybrid turbo era. The Renault-powered team has won three times and stands an outside chance of the championship.
Red Bull kept a close eye on Honda’s progress as its junior team Toro Rosso took on the Japanese manufacturer. Horner spoke about the gains Honda has made since splitting from McLaren. he also spoke about how it motivated Red Bull’s decision to use its power unit.
“It puts Red Bull in a position where both of its teams share the same power unit with the full focus of an OEM [original equipment manufacturer],” he told RaceFans. “With the resource and facilities and investment Honda have made and the progress they have made – particularly in the last six months – for us it was a particularly straightforward decision.”
“The agreements that we have with Honda are very much focused on performance and the decision behind the change was driven by engineering reasons opposed to fiscal gain.”
Ever since their debut in 2005, Red Bull has always been an engine customer. They started with Cosworth before moving to Ferrari next year. A year later, they partnered with Renault and remained with the latter ever since.
But, after Renault withdrew its factory F1 programme at the end of 2009, Red Bull became the number 1 priority. It paid off with four consecutive constructors’ titles and driver’s titles.
But the French manufacturer hasn’t mastered the V6 hybrid turbo regulations as successfully as Mercedes or Ferrari. Its decision to revive its factory team programme in 2016 meant that Red Bull’s attention monopoly was short-lived.
“Obviously Renault now having their own works team, the customer-supplier relationship has only become more exaggerated over the last couple of seasons,” said Horner. “Honda have the strength and depth of resource, the desire and of course we will be their exclusive focus and attention.”
Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz also backed the deal. “He believes in the Honda programme. He is optimistic about the potential. He sees the benefit to the team of having the full focus of a powerful manufacturer behind it which is the first time in our history.”