Honda’s announcement about leaving Formula 1 again came to a shock to many, but it certainly didn’t to Red Bull.
The Japanese manufacturer confirmed on Friday, October 2 that the 2021 season will be their last in Formula 1, leaving just three engine manufacturers left when the sport heads into a new era in 2022.
The chances of a new manufacturer joining Formula 1 in time for 2022 is unrealistic and, as a result, a return to Renault appears to be most viable option.
With Red Bull and AlphaTauri both remaining committed to the sport for the long term, Renault would have to, as per the regulations, supply their ex-partners with engines as they will be the manufacturer with the fewest customer teams compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.
The prospect of joining forces with their old frenemies Renault has long been weighing on Red Bull’s mind, according to Dr Helmut Marko.
“We work in all directions, because we knew about Honda’s decision for a long time,” Marko is widely quoted as having told Speedweek.
Marko then gave an indication as to what the next steps in the process are as Red Bull search for a new engine supplier.
“All options will be sorted and then Red Bull will decide what happens,” he revealed.
“I repeat: we sort, present a concept, then a decision will be made. We will research all possibilities.
“When we have the facts together, Mr Mateschitz will decide.”
Although Red Bull have committed themselves to Formula 1 until at least 2025, Marko says there is an annual exit clause that can be triggered – but it is not a likely scenario.
“We can cancel the contract annually, there is an option to exit at the end of each year,” he said.
“But this is not our priority.”
Marko was also asked about the future of Alex Albon as Red Bull look to confirm their 2021 driver line-up, but the team’s stance is still the same.
He added: “If Alex Albon performs well then he stays.
“If not, there will be deliberation. We would then see which drivers that are good are on the market. But that’s not an issue at the moment.”