L&T Motorsport

Renault to split from Red Bull after 2018, what are the possibilities for RBR?

The future of McLaren might be resolved now in the short term but the gossip columns are now circulating around the future of Red Bull, so what do we know so far?

Well the stories coming out today have it that the former World Champions are planning an engine divorce of their own from current supplier Renault. The team have been critical of the French engines since the new hybrid regulations came into effect in 2014. This has led to its own fragile relationship and the news is that Renault have or are about to serve notice on the Milton Keynes outfit and stop supplying engines after 2018.

If this was to come to fruition then it could leave Red Bull in limbo for 2019. The new regulations would mean that the chances of a new supplier joining the grid before 2021 is extremely unlikely and the chances of Ferrari or Mercedes agreeing to supply a championship rival is slimmer than me winning the lottery.

This could lead to Red Bull taking on Honda power as well for 2019, even if just for two seasons until the new regs in 2021. With its sister team Toro Rosso expected to take on Honda engines as part of the whole McLaren saga the only possible option should Renault end their contract would be for Red Bull to take on Honda power.

This could, in turn, have implications in regards to its drivers. Daniel Ricciardo is out of contract after 2018 and Max Verstappen is rumoured to have get out clauses as well. Both have expressed the want for more competitive machinery with Red Bull not able to keep up with Ferrari and Mercedes on a regular and consistent basis.

So Honda could be the short term solution, but what of longer term possibilities?

Rumours are gathering pace in the paddock that Porsche is about to re join F1 in time for 2021 season and possibly buying out Red Bull Racing as well in the process.

Although there is no confirmation from either side Porsche have already hinted and stated that F1 is on the radar for the future is the new engine regulations being discussed just now for 2021 onwards are manageable and relevant. It had been hinted that any return would be as an engine supplier only but when you consider the possibilities around Red Bull there is quite a bit of sense around it.

First of all the F1 team for Red Bull was always a marketing exercise, a hugely expensive one that goes well with the image for the energy drink company. Could the company decide that it wishes to cut F1 down in terms of running its own team and provide primary sponsorship instead? It would still give it the global audience without the full on expense of running a team.

For Porsche the benefit is a ready made, championship winning team and set up all in place for them so no initial set up costs etc to get up and running. The team might even keep on all or the majority of staffing including Christian Horner to run the team as it was. They could even link between the current base in Milton Keynes and Porsche’s German base as well in much the same way Renault do between their French base in Viry and the UK Enstone base.

Porsche was last in F1 back in the late 80s and early 90s, most notably under the TAG guise at McLaren between 1984-1987 seasons winning the title in 1984 with Niki Lauda and two more with Alain Prost in 1985 and 1986. The last entry was a disastrous effort at Arrows Footwork in 1991 with a overweight and bulky V12 engine. But many forget that Porsche was a full works F1 team back in the 50s and 60s, its final entry being in 1962 which wielded its only win for Dan Gurney at that seasons French Grand Prix.

There is already links between Red Bull and Porsche as well. Mark Webber has driven for both the F1 team and Porsches WEC side as well and could be a key link man initially if such a deal was to take effect. Also Brendon Hartley and Neel Jani have Red Bull links as well and even Helmut Marko, advisor to Red Bull F1 operations, won Le Mans in 1971 in a Porsche 917.

But the big winner would be Formula One itself. The sport would gain one of sports car biggest marque names to its line up to go alongside Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault. Who doesn’t like the idea of Ferrari and Porsche cars fighting it out downhill towards Eau Rouge? It remains to be seen of course if it will happen but the intrigue is sure to get a few tongues wagging for sure.

All of this is rumour and speculation at this point but with many high level paddock sources reporting the same stories there is usually truth, the old no smoke without fire expression. Time will tell what is in store for Red Bull in Formula One as a whole but the future for the four time Champions is uncertain in many aspects for sure.

Andrew Campbell
Photo Credit: Autosport

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