Honda will be working with Red Bull in Formula 1 much longer than planned and will deliver its engines to the racing team from Japan.
The manufacturer had officially left Formula 1 after 2021, but wanted to help Red Bull with the restructuring and continue to produce engines in 2022 until the new engine division should take over Red Bull Powertrains.
But that will only be the case much later, as Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko reveals: Honda will be involved until 2025 and will retain the intellectual property of the drives.
“The engines will be manufactured in Japan ready-made by 2025, we won’t touch them at all anymore,” confirms Marko to the Austrian “Autorevue”.
This has several advantages for Red Bull: The new engine department can concentrate on the new engine regulations from 2026, Honda is most familiar with its own drives anyway, and a technical trick could be used for 2026.
According to Marko, the fact that the rights remain with Honda until 2025 is “important for 2026 because it makes us newcomers.” Volkswagen, which then wants to enter Formula 1 with either Porsche or Audi, wanted some concessions for newcomers, as it did with Honda’s late entry a few years ago – and Red Bull could then benefit from that as well.
Engine department fully operational in May/June
Despite the new developments, preparations for the new engine department are in full swing. Red Bull has already committed employees and, according to Marko, will be “fully operational in May/June”.
Thus one seems to be prepared for the future after Honda, which is still longer in coming than originally planned. It is possible that the world title with Max Verstappen also ensured that the Japanese continued to work on the Formula 1 project in the background.
“In the course of our increasing success, a certain rethinking has emerged among the Japanese,” says Marko. “And also that they can of course use the battery knowledge for their electrification phase. Then it was initially planned that they would only make our engines for 2022. Now it has been decided that this will continue until 2025, which is of course a huge advantage for us.”
Honda project manager in new consultant role
Honda’s project manager Masashi Yamamoto, meanwhile, will leave the manufacturer this month to start his own consulting company. This should continue to support Red Bull in the transition phase and also act as a connection between Red Bull and Honda.
“We started a new company,” he says. “We want to do something that makes people happy and if we win in Formula 1 then the fans will be happy with that. We signed a contract with the company Red Bull Powertrains. The company hired me at Christian Horner’s request and Helmut Marko as a supporter.”
“Because this is an inter-company contract, it’s difficult to talk about details, but as one of the members of Red Bull Powertrains, I will undertake work that will help them,” said the Japanese.
Yamamoto stresses that his main focus will be to act as a bridge between Red Bull Powertrains and Honda to ensure engine development runs as smoothly as possible from now on.
“For example, if they want to understand Japanese culture and Honda culture and want to have a closer and better relationship with Honda, we can support them. Basically, it’s a bridge between Red Bull and Japan.”
And it must now last until at least 2025.