Toto Wolff believes Red Bull’s plan to take over the intellectual property of Honda’s engines has the potential to work out well.
Red Bull are seeking an engine supply for 2022 onwards after Honda announced they were pulling out of Formula 1 at the end of next year.
In the weeks since the decision was revealed, Red Bull have made it clear their preferred option would be to establish their own engine operation in-house rather than rely on outside provision from Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault.
That would, however, depend upon F1 implementing an engine freeze to enable Red Bull to perform on a level playing field – a concept to which Ferrari and Renault, although not Mercedes, are opposed.
But if Red Bull do take over the Honda project, Mercedes team principal Wolff thinks they are capable of making a success of it.
“Red Bull is not only a racing team, and a very successful racing team, but also an engineering company,” said Wolff, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It seems Honda have done a good job in bringing updates to the power unit. There is some good stuff in the pipeline and they will still be around next year, giving it all to be successful in the Championship.
“That’s why I think Red Bull can be successful in running the Honda IP and developing the Honda IP.
“But then, in the mid-term, we will innovate, all of us, to work on a new engine concept that could be introduced as early as 2024 or 2025. That’s where the attention of all of us will shift.”
Wolff thinks F1 can be healthy with only three engine manufacturers if the Honda plan does not happen, but thinks the sport should look at the bigger picture and understand the value of keep an extra option there.
He thinks it also better for F1 to ensure Red Bull and their ‘sister’ team, AlphaTauri, stick around.
“I think for them, going back to customer status is not something they are very keen on,” he said.
“I truly believe Honda have done a very good job and there is performance in the pipeline that gives Red Bull confidence. But equally I understand they don’t want to go into a spending war with all the other OEMs on developing engines.
“It’s a sensible proposal I’d like to support. I think Red Bull is a tremendously important brand for Formula 1 and we should do everything to keep the two teams in Formula 1 and help them with the option of having basically works status.”