Red Bull to take on Honda’s power unit from 2022

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Red Bull Racing is to take over production of Honda’s Formula 1 engine when the manufacturer withdraws from the sport at the end of this season. In order to run the project, a new company named Red Bull Powertrains Limited has been formed and the new division will be housed in and operated from Red Bull Racing’s F1 Team base on the Red Bull Technology Campus in Milton Keynes, UK.

According to Red Bull, the new company will not only be responsible for continuation of the current Honda engine project, but will also work toward developing a new power unit design for introduction in 2025.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko said, “We have been discussing this topic with Honda for some time and following the FIA’s decision to freeze power unit development from 2022, we could at last reach an agreement regarding the continued use of Honda’s hybrid power units. We are grateful for Honda’s collaboration in this regard and for helping to ensure that both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri continue to have competitive power units.

“The establishment of Red Bull Powertrains Limited is a bold move by Red Bull but it is one we have made after careful and detailed consideration. We are aware of the huge commitment required but we believe the creation of this new company is the most competitive option for both teams.”

The team already has considerable in-house capabilities, including various advanced testbeds for full chassis testing, and it appears it will also take over Honda’s dyno facilities also located in Milton Keynes.

Team principal Christian Horner explained, “This agreement represents a significant step for Red Bull in its Formula 1 journey. We were understandably disappointed when Honda made the decision to leave the sport as an engine manufacturer, as our relationship yielded immediate success, but we are grateful for their support in facilitating this new agreement.

“Honda has invested significantly in hybrid technology to ensure the supply of competitive power units to both teams. We now begin the work of bringing the power unit division in-house and integrating the new facilities and personnel into our Technology Campus.”

Horner confirmed that the team would also be working with Austrian supplier AVL, which has extensive experience in the development of contemporary F1 engines and hybrid systems. As to who will head up the new operation as technical director remains to be seen.

Andy Cowell, one of the architects of Mercedes’s successful program has been suggested as a candidate, following his departure from the German manufacturer last year. However, Horner dismissed such speculation and Cowell has said he is looking for challenges outside motorsport. Mario Illien is also in the frame, having already worked with Honda.

Honda will continue its development program through 2021, in an effort to leave Red Bull with the most competitive package possible, but from 2022, the power unit will be branded as a Red Bull, with the team saying it will not be seeking a branding partnership as it did when it ran Renault units with Tag Heuer badging. Following @HondaRacingF1’s withdrawal from #F1 @redbullracing will take over engine production and build own power units in future

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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