The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team will utilise the first half of 2018 to debate on a Honda switch for the 2019 season, according to Dr. Helmut Marko. The Milton Keynes outfit are in their final year with Renault and are eyeing a future tie-up with Honda. So, they will monitor and assess the performance of sister team Toro Rosso as they begin their Honda stint.
Red Bull advisor, Marko admitted that he was “positively surprised” by the Japanese manufacturer’s progress. All this was despite the dismal underperformance with McLaren in the past three years.
He said, “So far we’re positively surprised by Honda, also in terms of their dedication and enthusiasm. I think they have learned from the mistakes that certainly happened. So far, according to the test stands, the engine is reliable. I think it will be possible for the engine to catch up to Renault level by mid season.”
If Marko’s predictions come true, Aston Martin Red Bull will likely make the Honda switch from Renault for 2019. He continued, “The regulations have changed so that you have to announce what engine you want to compete with the following year by the summer. We will analyse thoroughly and then make a decision.”
However, on the flip side of the coin, if Honda fall short of expectations again, Red Bull’s predicament will become even more unclear. With Renault out of question, Red Bull would be in a sticky situation. The Austrian marquee did not help their own cause with their frosty relationship with the French engine supplier. It was that very reason that resulted in Toro Rosso splitting with Renault in the first place. Honda, in need of a customer due to their own drama with McLaren pounced at the opportunity. Meanwhile, Mercedes and Ferrari were hesitant to supply power units for fear of the increased competition. It was less about Toro Rosso and more about Red Bull, since the latter were their direct rivals.