In the latest episode of the F1 Beyond the Grid podcast, Tom Clarkson has interviewed Christian Horner, the Red Bull F1 boss who gave some details about the saga of how it went about coming to the decision of creating its own engine division, Red Bull Powertrains. In September 2020, Honda announced it was leaving F1 which left Red Bull without a power unit supplier for both its teams – Red Bull and AlphaTauri at the end of the 2021 season. As per regulations at the time, it was contingent on the supplier with the least customers to come in to help Red Bull at fair and reasonable terms.
This meant, Red Bull would’ve been stuck with Renault, its former supplier with whom it had an acrimonious relationship over the years, even though it won 4 world titles with it.
The most natural thing was to have a discussion with the existing suppliers. Mercedes was a very short conversation. Toto wasn’t particularly keen on that one. In fact, Renault, their aspirations as a team didn’t include supplying a team like Red Bull,” revealed Horner.
The relationship between Renault and Red Bull had grown sour ever since it had acquired the Lotus team. Red Bull used to have a “works” vertically integrated relationship with it which wasn’t the case anymore.
It hadn’t also helped that Renault lagged Mercedes in the turbo-hybrid era which was one of the major causes behind Red Bull’s fall from the heights of 2010-2013 as aerodynamically it remained one of the best cars during even its lean period.
This situation also made Mercedes vary because it didn’t want to supply Adrian Newey the Red Bull chassis with its best-in-class engine which would’ve made things tough for its own team on the race track. Renault was perhaps thinking on the same lines but it would’ve been forced to do so by F1.
Interestingly, Horner revealed Ferrari wasn’t, which was something unfathomable at the time when Honda announced its exit. It was believed that Ferrari wouldn’t have been open to be outperformed by a car that had its own engine, much like Mercedes and Renault.
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