‘Max has a competitive engine in the contract’

Michelle Foster
Red Bull Honda

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Losing Honda at the end of 2021 may not only result in Max Verstappen leaving Red Bull but it could also see Red Bull leave Formula 1.

Verstappen does have an engine clause in his contract with Helmut Marko using the word “competitive” to describe it.

Last week Honda announced that next year’s championship would be its last in Formula 1, the Japanese manufacturer citing a desire to go green as one of its reasons.

Honda’s withdrawal has thrown Red Bull’s Formula 1 future into doubt.

Although the team immediately said it would continue in Formula 1, Marko now admits that all depends on whether they have a competitive engine powering the car.

And if they don’t, they could also lose Verstappen to a rival team.

Team boss Christian Horner has denied that Verstappen such a clause in his Red Bull contract, however, Marko has contradicted him.

“Max has a competitive engine in the contract,” Marko admitted to Auto Motor und Sport. “But that’s also our premise.

“Without an engine with which we can win the World Championship, the project is not interesting for us.”

Asked if Red Bull could quit Formula 1 over this, he replied: “If we can’t find a competitive solution, that’s an option.”

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Red Bull’s options for 2022 include the current engine manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, designing a power unit of their own or bringing another manufacturer into the sport.

While some pundits are hoping it will be Mercedes that powers the RB18, Renault is the most likely option as things stand.

They powered Red Bull to four successive championship doubles before the relationship fell apart as Mercedes hit its stride.

Marko, though, concedes that returning to Renault, given that unlike Honda its engine is designed specifically for its works team’s chassis, Red Bull would have to compromise its own car.

“When you go back to Renault, you get an engine that they build according to their needs,” said the Austrian. “It is made for their chassis.

“That would be another compromise for us.”

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