‘Red Bull just got tired of Honda being so indecisive about their future plans’

Michelle Foster
Red Bull Racing's logo. France, June 2021.

Red Bull Racing's logo. France, June 2021.

Saying an official goodbye to Honda, at least to the name, with championship success in 2021, Red Bull will cut ties completely with the Japanese manufacturer at the end of the 2025 season.

And Christijan Albers reckons that call was made due to Honda being “indecisive”.

Honda announced in 2020 that the 2021 championship would be their last on the Formula 1 grid, Red Bull left scrambling for a replacement.

But with the Formula 1 teams agreeing to freeze engine development from 2022 until the end of 2025, the Milton Keynes squad decided to go it alone and created the Red Bull Powertrains division.

Honda, though, would continue to assist Red Bull for the 2022 season. That assistance was later extended to include 2023 through to the end of the freeze in 2025.

At that point in time, Honda would – if was thought – leave the sport completely only for the FIA to announce they’d put their names down to be a 2026 engine supplier.

It won’t be for Red Bull, though, their Powertrains division teaming up with American carmaker Ford to collaborate on the brand-new-for-2026 power unit.

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Former F1 driver turned pundit Albers believes the team grew weary with Honda’s back-and-forth.

“I think they just got tired of those negotiations. Honda was so indecisive,” he said on the latest De Telegraaf podcast.

“Honda decided to pull the plug and yet now they’re back again. I think Red Bull was just sick of that.”

The 43-year-old, who spent spent three years on the Formula 1 grid from 2005 to 2007, also weighed in on Red Bull’s budget cap penalty.

Found guilty of breaching the cap ceiling in 2021, overspending by $2.2m on their way to the Drivers’ Championship title, the team was fined $7m and docked 10 percent of their allotted time under F1’s aerodynamic testing regulations.

Albers doesn’t believe it will have a major impact on the team, especially the financial penalty.

“Red Bull is a rich team,” said the Dutchman. “They have enough budget.

“Yes there is a budget cap, but there are still quite a few exceptions. There is still quite a lot that can be done.

“Like Mercedes, they can reshuffle things a bit with the engine department now. They can mess around quite a bit.”

Are Ford the big winners in Red Bull and Honda split?

Red Bull have insisted there is a “Chinese wall” between their Honda time and their Ford collaboration, there will be no carry over of information.

“We have an agreement and great relationship with Honda until the end of 2025,” Horner told the media after Red Bull’s presentation in New York on Friday.

“There’s no crossover of intellectual property, all the Honda engines are produced in Japan and everything on the RB Powertrains side is very much focused on 2026.

“So there is a clear Chinese wall between the two activities, but we’re obviously going to be working with Honda over the next few years to achieve the best results that we can.”

Easier said than done.

Horner himself said after Red Bull personnel moved over to Aston Martin and they brought out what they believed to be a ‘green Red Bull’ in Barcelona, that teams cannot stop team members from using the information in their heads.

What is in an engineer’s head or a designer’s is theirs. As such, Ford could the winners in all this. They will have their own IP but will be able to lean on the knowledge of Red Bull engineers who also worked with Honda, and even Mercedes.