The Honda and Red Bull engine deal: From speculation to discussion

FROM as early as 2015, the F1 industry was discussing just who would be the best choice for Red Bull’s engine plans and while Honda was certainly thought of as contenders, Renault’s fractured relationship with the team won out and until recently, this appeared to be there to stay. However, in late 2017, this changed completely with Red Bull’s announced split from Renault and thus began a discussion around who would take their place with the engine deal – enter Honda.

The Speculation

Upon Red Bull’s announcement of their split with Renault that is set to take place at the end of the 2018 season, it was only a matter of time before speculation began around who would strike up a new deal in their place. With rumours around Aston Martin taking over and even hints towards Porsche, the obvious choice still sat with Honda, especially when the rumours around Porsche were quickly quashed. However, there was no doubt that a deal between Red Bull and Honda could do good for both teams. With Honda’s shaky reputation after a terrible season with McLaren, supplying a second team could, in fact, help them prove their worth once more and have both working with and developing their engines to become bigger and better than any of their competitors. What’s more, Red Bull was rumoured to have been watching Honda’s F1 progress very closely which further fuelled the initial speculation.

April’s Uncertainty

However, despite initial speculation, it was in April of 2018 that things started to come to fruition though both Honda and Red Bull were keeping a lot of the information entirely to themselves. In general, it seemed that Red Bull was watching Honda in order to see how they were performing with Toro Rosso before making any decisions. Well, with that in mind, Honda’s 2018 season has been impressing critics across the industry. Toro Rosso has shot through the rankings, outperforming Honda-divorcee McLaren with ease.

This embarrassment for McLaren certainly looked good on Honda, but despite an increase in speculation around Red Bull and their potential partnership with Honda, it wasn’t until May 1st that it was finally confirmed that Red Bull and Honda were talking.

The Talks Finally Begin

Honda and Red Bull are, at the time of writing, in talks about a potential F1 2019 engine deal and much of this is said to be down to Honda’s impressive start in the 2018 season. Considering Honda’s performance with Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, it was only a matter of time before this speculation became reality with the manufacturer looking more and more attractive to Red Bull’s bosses. Helmut Marko, Red Bull motorsport boss, has already gone on to make it clear that Honda stands a much better chance after their improved performance in 2018.

The final details of this deal, of course, have not been announced or finalised yet, but talks are underway. This partnership has arguably been a long time coming and with both Honda and Red Bull having divorced from their previous team and supplier, it seems to be a match worthy of being made.