In the end Red Bull got what they wanted. Formula 1 will introduce an engine freeze at the start of the 2022 season that will run until 2024.
The decision no doubt comes as a massive relief for the Milton Keynes outfit, as they were forced to find a solution regarding their power unit following the Japanese manufacturer's decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of the season.
"As of today, the course has been set for a new company to be established in Milton Keynes," Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko told Motorsport-Magazin.com. "That will be Red Bull Powertrains."
With the co-operation of associate F1 media outlet Motorsport Magazin, RacingNews365.com can disclose that Red Bull executives plan to register a new company known as Red Bull Powertrains. The news has been months in the making after Red Bull were forced to look for alternatives once Honda announced they would be leaving Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season.
Given the team's ambitions to fight at the front of the grid, a return to Renault power was never a real option. That's why a special plan has been taking shape in Fuschl, Graz and Milton Keynes since word of the Japanese manufacturer's departure: Red Bull want to take over Honda engines and make them their own. However, a stop in engine development was needed to make that wish come true.
Red Bull can't and don't want to develop their own complex and expensive power units, but on the other hand they need to compete. The only way that is possible is if the rest of the competition isn't able to develop either. As a result engines will be homologated at the start of the 2022 season. Units will not be allowed to develop until the end of the engine regulations in 2024, as decided unanimously by the teams.
"I think that it's not only good news for us, but I think it's good for the whole of Formula 1 in general," Marko added.
However for Red Bull, the move doesn't come without its own set of costs. The good news is that Red Bull have a plan in place when it comes to their facilities in Milton Keynes.
"Building eight, one of our existing buildings, is being adapted into an engine shop," explained Marko.
Red Bull have already obtained cost estimates over the past weeks and months, with a vote on the engine freeze the final step before those plans could be put into action.
"Now everything is happening, now it's starting," Marko happily stated.
Honda's development centre is in Sakura, Japan but an operations centre was set up at Milton Keynes, not far from Red Bull. Nonetheless, Dietrich Mateschitz dug deep into his pockets and is looking to set up his own location rather than taking over Honda's infrastructure.
"The Honda shop is more geared towards electric motors. There aren't enough of the latest test benchmarks to carry out the necessary optimization on the engines," Marko explained, as this infrastructure is in Sakura.
"This engine shop is technically designed in such a way that the development - provided it remains within the scope that is envisaged - for the new engine regulations could be carried out here," added Marko regarding Red Bull's plans.
And thus, engines should become simpler and cheaper by 2025.
Red Bull masterplan: Factory team in 2025
It is Red Bull's first step toward becoming a full factory team. Ideally, there would be a manufacturer that works with the Austrian outfit starting in 2025. If not, the team could run independently - without having to rely on engines from Renault, Ferrari or Mercedes.
The investments that Red Bull makes over the course of the next few years should, in theory, pay off handsomely afterwards. The new engine plans shouldn't hurt the racing team's budget too much either.
"We're already crazy, but we'll do some math and calculations," Marko added smugly.
"It's a one-time investment in the building and especially in the test benches. But the running costs won't be that much higher than if we had bought an engine somewhere. It costs more, but not significantly more."
Red Bull have already reached an agreement with Honda to take over the intellectual property of the engine, though the operating costs could be covered in part through a sponsorship deal for the engine.
"Of course not from another automaker, but from some other interested party for example," Marko said in hope.
This would follow in line with Red Bull's decision a few years ago to rename their Renault engines after striking a deal with watch manufacturer Tag Heuer. However Red Bull are also hoping the move comes with benefits in the short term as well.
"Now we are building an engine that is coordinated with the chassis people, but both sides will help to optimise things," Marko added. "If we had received an engine from Renault, for example, we would have been forced to design our own chassis, radiator and other parts for the engine."
Red Bull will continue to receive full support from Honda in 2021. The Japanese manufacturer have also pledged to develop their power unit by the end of the year, though no updates are allowed during the season. This means that Red Bull will begin the homologation period in 2022 with an engine that is up to date.