Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the partnership with Honda has given his technical team “a new lease of life” after 12 seasons with Renault.
The introduction of the V6 turbo power units in 2014 brought an end to Red Bull’s run of four consecutive championship doubles, and the team won only 12 races in the following five years. With Renault returning as a full constructor, Red Bull has switched to Honda in order to secure works status and Horner says there was an immediate impact on renowned designer Adrian Newey and the technical team.
“There’s a sense of great anticipation and excitement within the factory,” Horner (pictured at right, above) said. “It’s exciting to be working with a new partner that shares our racing instinct and desire for competitiveness in a true partnership. So it’s been great to see Honda engineers and Red Bull engineers really engaging and working hard on engineering solutions.
“Adrian is a designer — he’s only really interested in horsepower. So of course he’s very excited by this new relationship. He’s been to the facility in Japan and was fully supportive of the move to Honda power supply for the 2019 season.
“The whole technical team has fully embraced this with huge enthusiasm, so it’s been like a new lease of life throughout the technical team, who are now working in a technical partnership, as opposed to a customer-supplier relationship.”
While Red Bull won four races last season, there were a number of circuits where it was unable to challenge for victories and Horner is hopeful the Honda partnership will reduce the gap to the front at a number of venues.
“I have found working with Honda very straightforward. There’s a great deal of passion and enthusiasm. It’s been a very open dialogue that the two companies have been having, and you can see their sense of determination and the commitment that Honda has made to Formula 1. It’s a perfect match for us. It’s been enjoyable and hopefully we can have some fun along the way as well.
“Inevitably when you’ve got such a big change — it’s the first time that we’ve changed power supplier in 12 years — there’s going to be a getting to know you process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so while we’re expecting to make progress throughout the year, the target is very much looking at this as a two- to three-year project.
“In terms of the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes, we know where we’ve been the last couple of years. There are circuits that have suited us, there are circuits that haven’t — and our target is to be consistent across all types of venue.”