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Honda & Red Bull Hold First Formal Meeting Over 2019 F1 Engines

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Toro Rosso at 2018 Azerbaijan GP

After it was announced last year that Toro Rosso would switch from Renault to Honda engines for the 2018 Formula One season, the inevitable question followed: Will Red Bull, Toro Rosso’s parent team, do the same in 2019?

Up until this point, Honda had been coy about whether it was negotiating with Red Bull, but now the cat is out of the bag: Dr. Helmut Marko, head of Red Bull’s young driver development program and advisor to the F1 team, met officially with Honda motorsport Masashi Yamamoto ahead of yesterday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“Because it was the very first meeting, we discussed the conditions of both sides, what do we expect of each other,” Yamamoto said. “It was the first discussion.”

Sporting regulations mandate that engine manufacturers inform the FIA as to which teams they intend to supply next year by May 15, giving Red Bull and Honda only two weeks to complete a deal if they wish to meet the deadline.

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“I want to use the time we have left to discuss with the Honda board members before I take the feedback back to Red Bull to take the next steps,” Yamamoto said, before adding that when Honda rejoined F1 in 2015, it had been with the intent to work with multiple teams rather than just one.

“The board members are aware of discussions and there is big respect for the relationship [with the Red Bull organization].”

Red Bull scored four consecutive titles from 2010 to 2013 with Renault engines, but has since endured a strained relationship with the French manufacturer, who has failed to create turbo-hybrid V6 engines on par with the competition.

This has been further compounded by the revival of the Renault factory team, which will be seeking to win championships on its own rather than with Red Bull. Provided Honda can deliver the kind of competitive engine Red Bull is looking for, the team could benefit greatly from the exclusive partnership.

Any deal arranged now would be short-term, however. According to Yamamoto, given the engine formula changes being prepared for 2021, any deal with Red Bull would be for 2019 and 2020 only—mirroring its existing arrangement with Toro Rosso.

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