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Honda Engine Decision Was ‘Pretty Clear Cut,’ Says Horner

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Honda Logo on Toro Rosso

Because Red Bull has originally planned to make a decision about which engine to use in the 2019 season no later than the end of June, and not before the French Grand Prix, its announcement today came as a surprise.

But Team Principal Christian Horner says that ultimately, based on purely engineering information, the decision to go with Honda “was pretty clear cut.”

“So we felt that rather than things getting delayed, or taking further time, and Renault were also very interested to have a decision as soon as possible to get their own plans in place, so therefore we decided that the timing was right to make that commitment, make that decision, and hence the announcement today.”

Horner added that thanks to the Toro Rosso partnership, Red Bull has had a front row seat to monitor how Honda had been doing in 2018 — and that the Japanese manufacturer has been making great progress.

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“We’ve come to the conclusion that Honda are making good strides, good progress on both performance and reliability, and therefore we’ve made the decision to change power units after 12 seasons to something new for 2019 onwards,” Horner added.

Honda has previously expressed concerns about its ability to double its manufacturing output and meet the demands of a top team like Red Bull, though Horner didn’t seem worried, in part because of the team’s synergy with Toro Rosso.

“There are definite benefits from common supply, both for Honda, and for Red Bull’s activities in F1,” he said.

Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says he was not surprised by the decision, though he also admitted that losing Red Bull as a benchmark was not ideal and that he hopes to make Red Bull regret the switch.

This does put Red Bull in a bit of an odd situation, as the team is still very focused on the 2018 world championship, but Renault may feel reluctant to provide the team with anything more than the minimum out of fear that it will share information with Honda in 2019.

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