Mercedes and Renault don’t think Red Bull will need to do a deal with a different power unit supplier to replace Honda, with Toto Wolff ruling out any agreement.
Honda announced its plan to withdraw from Formula 1 at the end of 2021 last week, leaving Red Bull needing to make new plans from 2022 onwards. However, while Wolff says Mercedes will not supply Red Bull due to the number of customers it already has, he doesn’t think a request will even be made.
“No, for various reasons, but the main thing is we are supplying four teams, including us,” Wolff said. “We are almost in a state that we can’t make PU for all of us so there is no capacity. But I have no doubt Helmut (Marko) will have a Plan B, as he said, and probably doesn’t need to rely on any of the PU suppliers.”
Wolff is suggesting Red Bull will agree some form of continuation deal with Honda, allowing the team to take on the power unit’s IP and develop it in conjunction with an external partner such as Mugen, which did similar when Honda withdrew from F1 in the early 1990s.
Renault previously supplied Red Bull until that relationship broke down at the end of 2018, and managing director Cyril Abiteboul shares Wolff’s view, even though the French manufacturer would be obliged to do a deal with its former customer if required.
“I can confirm that I have not been contacted by Red Bull in relation to an engine supply,” Abiteboul said. “More seriously, I don’t think it is a question of whether we are open or not open. We know the regulation, when you are a participant to the sport you have to accept the rules, it’s part of the sporting regulations, we know what that is. We know the details.
“In terms of timing, there is still quite a bit of time before we get there. I can’t imagine that they don’t have a Plan A or Plan B and I think we are very far in the pecking order of the alphabet before they call us again.”
Abiteboul’s comments about there still being time if needed were particularly pointed after Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said he feels there isn’t long to enter into an agreement if Red Bull was to make an approach.
“We are not considering it, but it is something we need to start considering now,” Binotto said. “I think we have not decided as first I think it will be down to Red Bull to eventually look at us and ask for a supply.
“They’re a great team, no doubt. I think supplying them, a lot of energy is required. (It’s) something which we need to consider and have no position yet.
“I think timing-wise it’s very little time, because we need to organize ourselves — 2022 is just (around the corner), so it was sudden news from Honda and I think now we need to consider something that was not being considered a few days ago.”