Honda ceased its official involvement in the sport at the end of last season, and now Red Bull is paying for its services, including the development of this year’s power unit for the switch from E5 fuel to E10 fuel.
The initial strategy announced at the end of last year was that the new Red Bull Powertrains division would take complete power units from Honda, with full technical support on the tracks, only in 2022.
Once RBP picks up speed, it will then build the engines from Honda parts at its Milton Keynes factory in 2023, 2024 and 2025 while simultaneously working on its own project for the new F1 rules which will come into force. in 2026.
However, Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has confirmed the plan has changed, and the intention now is for Honda to continue supplying complete engines from Japan to RBR and AlphaTauri until the end of 2025.
The decision removes any concerns about issues such as quality control that could result from moving power unit construction to the UK, while also freeing up RBP to focus more on its 2026 project.
The change was made in part to ensure that RBP will still be a new entrant when its own engine is introduced in 2026.
He will thus benefit from the concessions in question mainly to help encourage the VW group to finally commit to F1, such as a higher power unit budget cap.
It is understood that details of the new arrangements have yet to be finalized, and it is not yet clear whether the engines will still be Honda-badged until 2025, although such a move would make sense given the desire to ensure that RBP is a new entrant in 2026.
“We have also found a completely different solution to the one initially envisaged,” Marko told Autorevue magazine.
“The engines will be made in Japan until 2025, we won’t touch them at all. That means the rights and all those things will stay with the Japanese, which is important for 2026 because it makes us newcomers.
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Marko suggested winning the 2021 world championship encouraged Honda to stay closer to F1 than expected.
“As our ever-increasing successes have progressed, a certain questioning has taken place among the Japanese. And also that they could of course use battery knowledge for their electrification phase.
“It was originally planned that they would only manufacture our engines for 2022. Now it has been decided that this will continue until 2025, which of course is a huge advantage for us. This means that we only have to make fine adjustments and calibrations.
Regarding the construction of the RBP facility, he added: “The condition precedent to this agreement was that the development of the engine was frozen. Because the first phase would have been for us to do everything ourselves. That’s why we started in Milton Keynes and dutifully bought from [dyno supplier] AVL.
“The plant will be fully operational in May/June. The final decision to do it ourselves was conditional on everything being frozen. Because otherwise we wouldn’t have had a chance with this complex thing.
Meanwhile, as reported on Wednesday, former Honda F1 boss Masashi Yamamoto has left the manufacturer to set up his own consultancy to provide a bridge between Red Bull and Japan, further extending the continuity between the partners.