Honda and Red Bull have opened talks about a possible future power unit supply deal for 2019, with a first official meeting taking place in Azerbaijan over the weekend.
Red Bull’s deal with Renault is due to expire at the end of this season, with the partnership expected to come to an end after the French manufacturer – which has its own works team – took on McLaren as a customer. While Red Bull insists there is still a possibility of continuing with Renault next year, it also has the option of switching to Honda after the latter started supplying Toro Rosso this year.
In May, power unit manufacturers must inform the FIA of the teams it intends to supply the following season – although the reshuffle of supply deals between McLaren and Toro Rosso was confirmed in September last year – and that has led to the opening of official talks between Red Bull and Honda.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko visited Honda in the Baku City Circuit paddock for meetings this weekend, with Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto confirming a “positive” opening to discussions.
“Because it was the very first meeting, we discussed the conditions of both sides, what do we expect of each other,” Yamamoto told F1.com. “It was the first discussion.
“Yes, it was positive. We do believe we were both satisfied. There’s a good relationship between us. However, it’s the first time we have an official meeting. It’s the starting point for a potential future.”
And Yamamoto says any deal would be to supply both Red Bull and Toro Rosso next season, which would mark the first time Honda has supplied two teams at once since returning to F1 in 2015.
“We have the obligation to present the documents on the 15 May to the FIA. It’s something we are starting to discuss now and it has to be smooth between Honda and Red Bull. I want to use the time we have left to discuss with the Honda board members before I take the feedback back Red Bull to take the next steps.
“When we decided to come back to F1, the plan was not to just stick with one team but work with multiple teams. The board members are aware of discussions and there is a big respect for the relationship [with the Red Bull organization].”
Toro Rosso Honda has scored 13 points so far this season, including a fourth place for Pierre Gasly in the Bahrain Grand Prix.