In a big development for the 2019 Formula 1 season, Red Bull Racing (RBR) has officially announced that the team will be switching to Honda Power Units next season in a two-year agreement. Honda replaces Renault as its engine supplier bringing an end to a 12-year-old partnership between Red Bull Racing and the French manufacturer. The partnership brought home 57 Grand Prix wins and four world championship doubles between 2010 and 2013. Red Bull has said that the team is making the switch because it wanted to have the "best chance to compete for titles again," and Honda seems to be the way forward.
In a statement, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said, "This multi-year agreement with Honda signals the start of an exciting new phase in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's efforts to compete not just for grand prix wins but for what is always our goal - championship titles. We have always taken decisions such as this dispassionately and with only one criteria in mind - do we believe the outcome will allow us to compete at a higher level. After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team."
Rumours were rife of Red Bull making the transition ever since Honda was signed up as the engine supplier for RBR's B-Team Torro Rosso for this season. With Renault unable to deliver a power unit to be able to take on the Mercedes and Ferraris on the grid, the partnership was increasingly strained over the past seasons. That said, the team did manage it bring two wins home this year and podiums as well. But it might have been a little too late for the engine supplier. Red Bull was said to be monitoring Honda's development ever since and then decided to make the switch.
Elaborating on the same, Horner said, "We have been impressed by Honda's commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own. We look forward to working with Honda in the coming years and to racing together in pursuit of F1's biggest prizes."
Meanwhile, Torro Rosso will continue to source engines from Honda for next season, giving the Japanese manufacturer two teams to work with. It is certainly a big step up for Honda that struggled during its previous years at McLaren, a partnership that ended at the end of the 2017 season. It also be a decade since the Japanese manufacturer worked with two teams since it had Super Aguri alongside during the 2007/08 seasons.
"Having two teams means we can access twice as much data as previously," commented Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director of Honda Motor Co. Adding further he said, "We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and championships, building two strong partnerships."
Speaking on its relationship with Renault, Horner commented, "We would like to thank Renault for the past 12 years, a period during which we experienced some incredible moments together. We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit."
In a statement, Renault reacted to Red Bull's decision saying, "Two years after Renault's return as a works team, we consider this is a natural evolution for both Renault and Red Bull Racing in view of their respective aspirations. We are fully focused on the strong progression of Renault Sport Formula 1 Team while continuing to foster the fresh relationship with McLaren Racing."
Honda made a return to Formula 1 in 2015 with McLaren and during its first stint as an engine supplier, the engine did not perform as exepcted. With multiple reliability issues and power loss problems, 2017 was one of the worst seasons for the Japanese manufacturer and led to the massive shuffle between the teams bringing Rneault to McLaren and Honda to Torro Rosso. The engine supplier managed to break 2018 on a good note with podium finish in Bahrain with Torro Rosso.