Red Bull’s Helmut Marko says Honda’ departure announcement came as no surprise to him, with the team having already started to consider its options.
Announced on Friday, the news came as a shock to many, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner presumably among them given he had said last week in Sochi “we have to continue to work closely together”.
However Marko, who acts in an advisory role to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, said planning was already underway as he had known Honda’s departure was coming.
“We work in all directions because we knew about Honda’s decision for a long time,” he told Speedweek. “Mr. Horner is a team principal, but not involved in strategic matters. Mr. Mateschitz and I have known for a long time.”
Asked exactly how long, Marko only said “longer. During the current season”. He then reiterated the team has been exploring its options, while refusing to go into specifics.
At least to outside observers, Red Bull’s most likely landing spot would seem to be a return to Renault power, given the French manufacturer – which will have no customer teams starting next season – would be obligated to supply them.
And yet while Marko acknowledged that possibility, he also revealed Red Bull could exercise a clause in its freshly-signed Concorde agreement to instead leave the sport entirely.
“We can cancel the contract annually. There is an option to exit at the end of each year,” he explained, but stressed that “is not our priority”.
“We are now sorting things out, and when we have the facts, Mr. Mateschitz will decide,” he said.