Red Bull knew title-winning days with Renault were over

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull and Renault staff talk. France, June 2019.

Red Bull and Renault staff stand in a circle talking. France, June 2019.

Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko says the team knew their title-winning days with Renault were done.

The Red Bull-Renault partnership was actually a very successful one, as the French manufacturer powered Red Bull to four Drivers’ and Constructors’ title doubles in succession from 2010-13.

But when the V6 turbo-hybrid engines were introduced in 2014, it brought an end to the glory days.

From there, the relationship between Renault and Red Bull went downhill, with the Renault power unit even rebranded to TAG Heuer, the Swiss watchmaker and partner of Red Bull, from 2016.

At the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, Red Bull and Renault split, with Red Bull switching to Honda, the Japanese manufacturer having supplied Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso with engines in 2018.

Red Bull believed they had the driver to contend for the title in Verstappen, who had been promoted to the senior team in 2016, but the same confidence was not placed in Renault.

“We must not forget we knew for sure we would not win a championship with the Renault engine,” said Marko in an interview with Autorevue.

A shot of the Red Bull rear wing with the Honda name. Abu Dhabi 2021
A shot of the Red Bull rear wing with the Honda name. Abu Dhabi 2021

Of course, Red Bull’s decision to partner with Honda was arguably a greater risk than staying with Renault.

In that first season with Toro Rosso, Honda had shown signs of overcoming the struggles that had characterised their failed reunion with McLaren, but it was far too early to expect a title-winning power unit from the Japanese manufacturer.

Marko explained Verstappen was, though, very much supportive of Red Bull’s decision and has always been kept right up to date with every development.

“He was always behind the team,” Marko confirmed.

“We have always kept him fully informed of our plans, even when it started with Honda. He is always up to date with the latest developments.”

 

The trust in Honda ultimately paid off, with Verstappen going on to claim the 2021 Drivers’ Championship, finally achieving the goal he and Red Bull had been striving for.

After that triumph, Verstappen stated he wants to remain with Red Bull for the rest of his career, with Marko confirming he fully “believes” his driver in his “statements about him feeling comfortable with us”.

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Red Bull were never winning titles with Renault

Helmut Marko said Red Bull knew they would not win a title with Renault as their engine partner.