Honda has decided to continue supplying power units directly to Red Bull until the end of the current Formula 1 regulations.
Honda’s official works role in Formula 1 stopped at the end of last season, and Red Bull is now paying for its services, which includes the development of this year’s power unit for the transition from E5 to E10.
Early last year, it was announced that Red Bull Powertrains would take complete power units from Honda, with full engineering support at the tracks, only in 2022.
When Red Bull Powertrains is fully operational, it will build the engines from Honda parts at its Milton Keynes facility in 2023, 2024 and 2025 while simultaneously working on its own project for the new F1 rules that come into force in 2026.
Helmut Marko, Red Bull motorsport’s chief executive, however, said the plans have changed and Honda will continue to supply complete engines from Japan to Red Bull and AlphaTauri until the end of 2025.
By moving the building of the power units to the UK, RBP can remove any concerns about quality control, and RBP can focus more on its 2026 project.
The adjustment was done in part to ensure that when RBP’s own engine is released in 2026, it will still be a new participant.
It will so benefit from the concessions being negotiated primarily to get the VW Group to ultimately commit to F1, such as a greater budget cap for power units.
Details of the new arrangements have yet to be finalized, and it’s unclear whether the engines would continue to be badged as Hondas until 2025, though such a move would make sense given RBP’s intention to be a new participant in 2026.
“We have now also found a completely different solution to the one originally envisaged,” Helmut Marko said in an interview with Autorevue magazine.
“The engines will be manufactured in Japan until 2025, we will not touch them at all. That means that the rights and all these things will remain with the Japanese, which is important for 2026 because it makes us newcomers.”
Honda has stayed closer to F1 than planned, according to Marko, after winning the 2021 world championship.
“In the course of our ever greater successes, a certain rethinking has taken place among the Japanese. And also that they could of course use the battery knowledge for their electrification phase,” the Red Bull boss continued.
“It was initially planned that they would only make our motors for 2022. Now it has been decided that this will continue until 2025, which is of course a huge advantage for us. This means we only have to make fine adjustments and calibrations.”
Marko also commented about the construction of Red Bull Powertrains facility.
“The prerequisite for this agreement was that engine development was frozen. Because the first phase would have been that we do everything ourselves. That’s why we started in Milton Keynes and dutifully bought in from AVL.”
“The plant will go into full operation 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.”