If Max Verstappen wants to race with the leading power sources from Mercedes from 2022, he has to leave Red Bull Racing. Mercedes’ Formula 1 CEO Toto Wolff refuses to help the competing team out of the fire with an engine. “We have our factory team and already supply three other teams. So no, we’re not going to do that. We already have our hands full.”
It is plain language for Red Bull Racing, which urgently needs to find a new partner because engine supplier Honda is turning its back on Formula 1. The alliance will end at the end of 2021. The leadership of the Japanese manufacturer believes that participation in the premier class of motorsport can no longer be reconciled with the climate-neutral ambitions it has.
“The sustainability strategy is getting in our way,” said Masashi Yamamoto, Honda’s motorsport director. “We have had some tough talks. At the headquarters in Japan it was decided that F1 is no longer a priority. We find that very annoying.”
Yamamoto guarantees that Verstappen’s car will not already be put on the back burner. “We will continue to develop at full throttle until the end of next year and try to leave Formula 1 with victories. We are going to make the best of it.”
Meanwhile, the management of Verstappen’s racing stable is at a loss. “We are still digesting the news and need time, but by the end of this year the bullet must be through the church. In 2022 there will be new regulations in which motorcycles play a key role,” says team boss Christian Horner outlined the dilemma where his team now stands for.
“I’m glad Honda has signaled us in time. I can’t imagine that they announced this next year.”
“We are ambitious. We want to fight for the title, so it is important that we weigh everything and make an optimal decision,” said Horner. But for the time being, the Briton has little choice. “I just heard Mercedes say ‘no’ to us. They are not waiting for us. That means that in the current field we only have two choices left: Ferrari and Renault.”
Mercedes boss Wolff, meanwhile, is critical of the exit of the Japanese. “I find it very regrettable that they say no to Formula 1. The sport needs stability and does not get anywhere with parties that just get in and out. I understand very well that you have to earn back an investment, but you have to go to the long Looking ahead. Mercedes has also had difficult years, but patience and patience are rewarded. “
Wolff also expects that Verstappen’s racing stable will survive the blow. He even suggests that Red Bull play a bargaining game and hold the cards to its chest for a while. “They have a plan B ready. I have no doubt about that. Horner does not have to look at us, Ferrari and Renault at all.”
The Mercedes boss does not go into detail, but there is fierce speculation about the entrance of Porsche, which has flirted with Red Bull in the past. Another option for the Verstappen racing stable is to continue with the Honda engines, by taking them over and maintaining, preparing and developing them yourself.
Horner keeps it vague for the time being and does not show the back of his tongue. “Speculation is even faster in this sport than cars. We keep all options open, but engines are enormously expensive. There is no sign of a new party that wants to join.”
The Red Bull boss is not yet concerned about his driver. The 23-year-old Verstappen is under contract until 2023, but could leave earlier under certain conditions.
“I’m not going to go into details about Max’s contract, but there is no way to leave. He is fully committed. We are in this together. We don’t want to race with a soapbox, but with a competitive car that is good for the future. title. It’s up to me to make sure Max gets it. “
Even more options?
Rapprochement with Ferrari and Renault has not yet been sought, but also two suppliers of power sources in Formula 1. “There is nothing concrete yet. We were also surprised by the departure of Honda”, Mattia Binotto (Ferrari) said when asked. “We would need time to make a decision anyway, but our factory team has priority and we already supply engines to Alfa Romeo and Haas. So it is not obvious.”
The Ferrari boss thinks that substantial cutbacks are inevitable to entice new engine suppliers. “The engines are far too expensive. We have innovated tremendously in Formula 1, but forgot to look at the costs. That has gone completely out of control. We have already agreed to cut costs, but it is not enough.”
‘Not at the top of the list’
Renault has not yet been called by Horner either. “I don’t think we’re at the top of their list either,” says Cyril Abiteboul. The Renault motorsport leader thus refers to the difficult relationship and the divorce with Red Bull in 2018.
Abiteboul does take into account that Renault has to offer power sources. “That could be determined by regulation because Ferrari and Mercedes already supply more teams, but I think Red Bull is betting on a different horse. Yes, I also think they have a plan B.”
Rasopportunist Horner has already opened the door ajar. “Of course I consider Renault as a candidate. Cyril is on my Christmas card list.”