Partnering each other since 2009, Red Bull Racing and Renault are two names Formula One fans have heard together for quite a while now. The start of this iconic partnership was very sweet for both the parties, with Red Bull winning four Constructors’ World Championships on the trot from 2010 to 2013. However, the introduction of the new V6 Turbo engines have made relations between the Austrian energy drink giant and the French road car manufacturer pretty rocky.
Disappointing engine performance, for both Red Bull and the Renault factory team, along with dismal reliability for a team realistically aiming to win races and World Championships, particularly in the last couple of seasons were the primary contributors to Red Bull running out of patience with the Renault power units.
Although Formula One engines are incredibly complex works of engineering and not enough respect is given to the engineers developing one, it is imperative to point of that the Renault power unit is struggling in comparison to its competitors.
This season, Red Bull finally decided to make the bold move by opting not to run Renault engines for 2019 and beyond. To add insult to Renault’s injury, Red Bull has decided to join hands with Honda, a power unit manufacturer who, only around a season ago, were struggling to manufacture power units that could last an entire race distance.
The Japanese manufacturer’s struggles have been very well documented in the past but their resurgence, in terms of both performance and reliability is due some much needed credit. Their encouraging partnership with Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso got the big bosses four garages away in the Red Bull camp to make this potentially-game changing decision.
Red Bull Racing wants to win; the only reason they put their faith on Honda was because they expect them to develop a championship-winning engine – fast. Time is quickly running out for Red Bull. By 2021, the engine regulations will take another big turn and it only makes sense to win as much as they can until the regulations are relatively stable and that makes Red Bull impatient.
Nobody knows which engine manufacturer will come out on top at the start of the new decade and consequently, Red Bull Racing are looking for results right here, right now. With only two more chances for Red Bull to secure a World Championship in the Hybrid V6 Turbo Era dominated by Mercedes, the pressure in the Red Bull factory in Milton Keynes as well as the Honda Engine Development base in Japan is rising and everyone expects a big season ahead.
Honda is doing everything in its power in order to gain a competitive advantage for 2019. Since their deal with Red Bull was announced, they have brought in multiple engine upgrades and are giving them some valuable track time. This is regardless of the fact that the stewards have given Toro Rosso – Honda several grid penalties for exceeding their limits of usable engines per year. Getting more data by giving the new engine upgrades more track time is key to developing a successful power unit and that is exactly what Honda is pursuing currently.
In the last few races of the 2018 season, Honda and Toro Rosso have ignored their short term goals and have decided to focus on the greater good for themselves and the entire Red Bull Racing family as a whole. Their decision to sacrifice the present by incurring grid penalties for a more promising and fruitful future might as well be a decision that pays of big time in the following couple years. Yet, the going will not be as smooth for Red Bull Racing and Honda as they will be taking on two of the most successful teams in the form of Formula One history in Ferrari and Mercedes.
The expectations of winning World Championships in the very near future have got Honda working tirelessly with Toro Rosso and also got them to accept any sort of penalties for now. All of this effort is being put in just so that in 2019 and 2020, Red Bull Racing can stand tall, shoulder to shoulder with its biggest rivals, Ferrari and Mercedes. Although these last few races may not mean a lot for Toro Rosso, they certainly do mean a lot for Red Bull and Honda – the new Spec C Honda engine is getting some valuable track time and that is exactly what it needs to develop and improve.
The efforts from Honda are certainly there. Now it is time for the engineers in Milton Keynes to deliver and develop the perfect car which can dethrone the mighty Mercedes. They will need to be careful though as the expectations set by the team itself are very high and it is critical for them to make sure that they don’t fall prey to it.
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