Mercedes is reportedly backing a possible Formula 1 engine freeze for the 2022 season, which would allow Red Bull to continue using Honda powertrains beyond the end of next year.
Red Bull is currently exploring alternative powertrain solutions for the future after existing supplier Honda announced earlier this month that it will be leaving F1 after the 2021 season.
The team made it clear that their preferred option would be to purchase the intellectual property and designs of their power unit from Honda, so that it can continue to be used beyond 2021 and maintain its effective working status.
But that would be on condition that a power unit development freeze was agreed between F1 makers, with Red Bull unwilling to enter a spending war with Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari.
Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff confirmed on Saturday that he would be in favor of an engine freeze so that Red Bull and its sister team, AlphaTauri, can continue to use Honda powertrains beyond 2021.
“I think Formula 1 is in good shape with three engine suppliers,” Wolff said.
“I fully understand where Red Bull comes from. They don’t want to go back to being a customer.
“They want to be a factory team and they have the ability to tweak it and maybe optimize it, and maybe there are a few things going on at Honda that give them confidence that the engine is more efficient.
“But I think we should do everything to give Red Bull this opportunity.”
If an engine freeze was not accepted, Red Bull could source its power supply from the former partner Renault. The French automaker said it was open to a deal, but believed Red Bull was unlikely to resign itself to customer status.
Sporting regulations also oblige Renault to supply engines to Red Bull by 2022 if the team submits a request to the FIA.
But Wolff understood Red Bull’s desire to maintain its factory status without bearing the significant costs associated with powertrain development.
“I understand they don’t want to get into a spending war with all the other OEMs to develop engines,” Wolff said when asked about Autosport why he was supporting the plan.
“It’s a sensible proposition. I would like to support her.
“I think Red Bull is a hugely important brand for Formula 1, and we should do everything to keep both teams in Formula 1 and help them with the option of essentially having jobs status.”
When asked if he was concerned that Red Bull was trying to force F1 to freeze the engine, Wolff said that was part of the series’ usual playfulness and that he was satisfied. of any solution that would keep its teams on the grid.
“I think in Formula 1 everyone is trying to get the best deal, the best financial deal and the best performance deal,” Wolff said.
“That’s the current position and I can live with either one. I can live with them taking a customer engine or help fund the Honda development program or do it on their own.
“I’m easy with either decision.”
The possibility of an engine freeze is expected to be discussed at an F1 Commission meeting on Monday.