French manufacturer Renault have claimed that Austrian outfit Red Bull must decide its 2019 engine plans by May. However, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has refuted such claims. Aston Martin Red Bull’s engine supply contract with Renault expires at the end of the current season. The relationship between the two suffered immensely at the end of last season. After series of setbacks suffered by junior squad Toro Rosso, ugly words were exchanged.
For the 2018 season, Toro Rosso have switched to Honda this year, after McLaren dropped the latter. As the new marriage enters its first year, Red Bull will be keeping a watchful eye on the Japanese manufacturer’s performance. Speculations have arisen that the Milton Keynes-based team are eyeing a change of partnership for next season and Honda is a realistic option.
Recently, Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul revealed that Red Bull have a deadline of May 2018 to decide between Renault and Honda for 2019. But Horner said otherwise. He said, “What we understand is that May is when you have to give an indication to the FIA, but that does not mean a commitment. It will be decided at the end of the summer. That’s the realistic timing of when the decisions have to be made.”
So far, Honda have produced a surprisingly strong and reliable pre-season test for Rosso. Horner admitted. “Honda has had a fantastic start with Toro Rosso. Obviously, we’re in a good position to keep an eye on their progress in the first half of the year. We’re going to follow it with great interest.”
Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, McLaren’s maiden voyage with Renault has got going with a juddering start. After a troublesome first few tests, McLaren finally clocked some mileage in. But coming back to Red Bull, they need to finalise their 2019 engine plans as soon as possible.