Yet another spat in the Red Bull versus Renault ‘war’ could erupt as the month of May nears an end, whereupon the French manufacturer needs an answer from the energy drinks outfit regarding their power unit plans for 2019 and beyond.
Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul wanted confirmation on 15 May, the first FIA stipulated deadline for teams to announce their 2019 engine partners, but the Frenchman agreed to an extension.
He said earlier this month, “After twelve years working together marked by many victories, we would be ready to continue with them. The number one issue we have is timing because we won’t be able to guarantee the availability of a Renault engine for them for 2019 beyond May 31. We were nice, we gave them two extra weeks.”
But Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner has different ideas, “There won’t be a decision in May. I think potentially both engine suppliers are bringing an upgrade around Montreal so we wait and see with interest.”
Suggesting that Red Bull management want to drag this out as long as possible, playing a deliberate waiting game to ascertain if Honda can provide them and their junior Toro Rosso team with engines and, if so, the question is: Will Red Bull powered by Honda be race winning material?
Meanwhile, Honda F1 chief Masahi Yamamoto appreciates the extra time Red Bull are lobbying for, “We regard it as a positive thing, giving us time means we have time to consult more. We are very positive.
“To deal with Red Bull is a really big thing for Honda, because they are a top team. This gives us a sort of pressure as an engine manufacturer. We have to consider many aspects very well, can we really deal with Red Bull’s size? We have to feel the responsibility to supply the engine,” added Yamamoto.
As for a decision deadline regarding their engine future, Horner said, “Hopefully around Montreal time, there is a next [Renault] engine introduction – we are hoping for a performance increase.”
In a nutshell, Red Bull are keen to wait for the Montreal engine updates before making a final decision which is thus more likely to be around mid-June.
But, Abiteboul is clearly not on the same page as Horner, “Everything will start at the end of May, shortly after Monaco. We cannot postpone it indefinitely.”
“There is some urgency due to changes in the regulations, so if Red Bull wants our engines, they should let us know. If there is no agreement, we will stay with Renault and McLaren. We do not have to supply three teams,” insisted Abiteboul.