Red Bull have ‘healthy’ working environment with Honda – Horner
A new era awaits for Red Bull. Having ended their 12-year spell with Renault, they have brought in Honda as their new power-unit suppliers for the next two seasons. And Team Principal Christian Horner has been buoyed by what he has seen so far from the Japanese manufacturer, believing the pair have built a ‘very healthy working environment’.
The Red Bull-Renault partnership yielded four consecutive drivers’ and four constructors’ titles, but relations between the pair had grown increasingly fractious in the years following their dominance together, and ultimately led to their parting ways at the end of last season.
That has given Honda, who showed signs of improvement with Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso in 2018, an opportunity to supply more than one team for the first time since returning to F1 in 2015 with McLaren.
Honda have been building up their UK facility in Milton Keynes to house a second operation for several years now, giving them the capability to supply both Red Bull and Toro Rosso this year, and Horner is confident they have the foundations in place to hit the ground running this season.
“Communication in any business, in particular in this sport, is a vital element,” said Horner.
“Obviously Honda are based in Japan, but their UK base is just around the corner from us in Milton Keynes. We’ve obviously got a huge amount of discussion going on between the groups.
“So far it’s all been very positive and I think we’ve found a very healthy working environment - that we’ve been nurturing through the relationship with Red Bull technology, Toro Rosso and Honda - that we don’t go into next year completely afresh.”
Red Bull won four Grands Prix last year – Max Verstappen and Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo taking two victories apiece – but also suffered from ongoing reliability problems.
And Horner believes that their 2018 campaign could have looked ‘quite different’, perhaps even title challenging, had they had extra power in the back of their RB14 contender.
“It’s always easy to say ifs, buts and maybes,” he added. “If there would have been another 40kw (around 53bhp) in the back of the car then the season could have looked quite different.
“Hats off to everyone at Milton Keynes for arguably producing one of our best ever chassis. If you look at the other users with the same engine, there’s a world of difference.”
Not only will Red Bull have fresh power for 2019, they'll also have a new-look driver line-up with Pierre Gasly, who impressed with Toro Rosso, partnering Verstappen. A new era indeed in Milton Keynes...