The tectonic plates moved slowly on this over the last few years but the inevitable has happened and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will become the works Honda powered team in 2019, ending their partnership with Renault after twelve seasons.
This raises the prospect of Red Bull winning with Honda, with McLaren having reversed out of the deal in favour of becoming a Renault customer.
McLaren’s relationship with Honda was irreparably damaged by three seasons of broken promises. But Honda has steadily improved with Toro Rosso this year and now Christian Horner and the senior management team, following months of deliberation, have teamed up with Honda officially on a two-year deal. Horner confirmed that the agreement is “multi-year”.
“This multi-year agreement with Honda signals the start of an exciting new phase in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s efforts to compete not just for grand prix wins but for what is always our goal – championship titles,” said Horner.
“We have always taken decisions such as this dispassionately and with only one criteria in mind – do we believe the outcome will allow us to compete at a higher level. After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the Team.”
Honda returned to Formula One as a power unit supplier with McLaren in 2015, but their turbulent partnership was ended in 2017, with McLaren switching to Renault power.
Honda then agreed to supply Toro Rosso for 2018, with a view to also run in the Red Bull senior team from 2019.
“We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1,” said Horner, “by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own. We look forward to working with Honda in the coming years and to racing together in pursuit of F1’s biggest prizes.”
The deal marks the first time Honda have supplied two Formula One teams since the 2008 season, where they supplied their works Formula One team and Super Aguri.
“Having two teams means we can access twice as much data as previously. We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and championships, building two strong partnerships,” said Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
“Discussions proceeded very quickly, thanks to Red Bull’s open and respectful attitude towards Honda, leading to a deal that is fair and equitable for all parties.”
The new deal ends Red Bull’s association with Renault, a partnership which has yielded 57 grand prix wins, four drivers’ championships and four constructors’ championships.
Red Bull’s choice of power unit supplier for 2019 was believed to hinge on the progress shown at the Canadian Grand Prix, where updates to both the Renault and Honda power units were introduced.
Their decision to switch to Honda power comes on the week of Renault’s home race, the French Grand Prix, and, with Red Bull being the highest-placed Renault-powered team, the news will be a big blow to the Renault works team’s ability to monitor their own progress against Red Bull.
“We would like to thank Renault for the past 12 years, a period during which we experienced some incredible moments together. We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner added.
“That is still the case today and we would like to thank the Renault team, and particularly the guys in our garage at every race, for their unstinting commitment and we look forward to ending our partnership on a high come the end of this season.
“Our focus for the rest of this year is still very much on delivering the best results possible in the 2018 Championship and we wish Renault Sport all the best for the future.”
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