Red Bull’s decision to move from Renault to Honda was “pretty clear cut” from an engineering standpoint, according to team principal Christian Horner (pictured above).
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Red Bull will partner with Honda for 2019 and 2020, bringing to an end a run of 12 seasons for the team with Renault. The current partnership has yielded another two wins this season, but when explaining the timing of the announcement — which came ahead of Renault’s home race — Horner says Red Bull saw the choice as obvious after seeing the impact of upgrades for both manufacturers at the last race in Canada.
“We decided that based on the information that we have from Montreal, a decision driven by engineering was pretty clear cut in the end,” Horner said. “So we felt that rather than getting delayed or taking further time, Renault were also very interested to have a decision as soon as possible to get their own plans in place. So, therefore we’ve decided that the timing was right to make that commitment and make that decision, and hence the announcement was made.”
However, despite a fractious relationship with Renault of late, Horner insists it was tough to call time on the current partnership after winning four straight championship doubles together from 2010-2013.
“We thought long and hard about the decision about changing the power unit supply for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. We’ve enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Renault, [scoring] eight world championships and over 150 podiums, but we’ve decided that the time is right to make that next step in our journey as Red Bull Racing and move to our new power unit supplier in Honda.
“We’ve had the privilege of seeing how they’ve progressed this year and reached the conclusion, purely for technical driven reasons, that this is the right move for the future of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
“Our determination as a team is to keep closing the gap to our immediate competitors and we’ve been trying to do that over the past couple of years. Of course the power unit is a vital element within a Formula 1 car and we’re confident that Honda have the right infrastructure, the right resources, the right technical capacity and determination to help us in our quest to reduce the gap to the teams ahead of us, Ferrari and Mercedes.”
While stopping short of directly comparing the Honda power unit with the Renault, Horner says the improvements shown by the Japanese manufacturer played a major role in convincing the team the time was right to change.
“We’ve been in a privileged position to be in a front row seat this year to monitor the progress and how Honda are getting on in our sister team, Toro Rosso, versus our own power supply. It’s been great to see that progress and we’ve come to the conclusion that Honda are making good strides, good progress on both performance and reliability, and therefore have made the difficult decision to change power units after 12 seasons to something new from 2019 onwards.”