Red Bull's Helmut Marko has indicated that the British-Austrian team could look at making its own engines when F1 enters a new era of engines in 2025 or 2026. He said the chances in-house engine development happening were contingent on the regulations ensuring a cost cap of $50 million and the elimination of the MGU-H which remains one the most complex components in the engine.
Red Bull wants to remain an independent constructor with a works like engine partner status, but since it doesn't manufacture its own engines post the exit of Honda, it will be resigned to be using an engine supplied by its rival manufacturer Renault. However, discussions are ongoing which will enable it to retain and acquire the Honda engine IP which it could use till 2025 till the next engine regulations kick in.
In a broad-ranging interview with Motorsport.com, Marko revealed that Red Bull was 80-85 per cent sure that it will be able to retain the Honda engines till 2025. In the case, it wouldn't be able to retain those engines because of costs, Red Bull will be forced to use Renault engines as per the FIA regulations as it wouldn't be supplying an engine to any customer apart from its own Alpine brand.
"If the hints become true that the new engine is much simpler in design; that the MGU-H is eliminated, and that it remains innovative but the annual cost limit is somewhere around 50 million, then it's no longer such a complex issue as the current engine," he explained.
"Our plans are to carry out engine maintenance on our existing Red Bull campus and adapt a hall for that," he said.
Marko remained hellbent that Red Bull wasn't interested in the Renault engine. This, of course, is a flow in from Red Bull's contentious relationship with Renault which was its engine partner till 2018 before opting for Honda. Renault and Red Bull bosses Cyril Abiteboul and Christian Horner publicly have an acrimonious relationship.
Red Bull contends that since the Renault engine has been designed keeping in mind the chassis of Renault's F1 car, it doesn't have the freedom to develop its chassis the way it wants. Renault's reliability and performance compared to Ferrari and Mercedes had also become an issue in the past.
One of the stumbling blocks towards, Red Bull getting its way -- which involves it acquiring the Honda engine IP are the regulations which posit the addition of bio-fuel from 2022 onwards. However, in a separate interview, Horner has indicated that dropping the bio-fuel plan would be the way forward till a fully sustainable engine is deployed by 2025.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has also said that he's neutral to the idea of the introduction or non-introduction of bio-fuels in 2022. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has also said recently that there should be mechanisms put in place to make sure no-one falls behind in competitiveness in the case an engine development freeze is agreed from 2022 onwards so as to no-one falls behind massively as Ferrari has in 2020 because of the COVID related development freeze.
The only manufacturer that is against Red Bull's demands of an engine development freeze is Renault as it had asked for such freeze in the past and at that time because Honda wasn't as competitive and threatened to leave the sport, further development was agreed to. Honda decided to leave F1, regardless of which comes into action at the end of 2021. So by 2025, if there is no new engine manufacturer in the sport, Red Bull will be forced to start making its own engines.