Renault will drop Red Bull as an F1 engine customer after 2018, reports Auto Motor und Sport. While that stoked fears that Red Bull might be saddled with Honda as their only engine option, Red Bull hinted to Sky Sports that they have “existing relationship” with a motor manufacturer who can hook them up in Renault’s place for 2019 that sounds a lot like Aston Martin.
Renault’s contract with Red Bull ends after 2018, and as that relationship has been nowhere near harmonious with numerous complaints about reliability from Red Bull, they’ve opted not to extend it. To wit: this is the engine supplier Red Bull tried to abandon once before, only to rebrand the Renault units as “Tag Heuers” when no other F1 engine supplier would work with them.
But now Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says that someone else is interested in supplying them with engines—a manufacturer they already have ties with who should be obvious, which clearly hints that it’s Aston Martin. Specifically, he says it’s not Honda, who will now supply Red Bull’s junior squad Toro Rosso next year, and not Porsche, as has also been rumored to be interested in F1 but more in the long run.
We also asked Porsche about their own F1 rumors as they’re in Austin for the World Endurance Championship race, to which a Porsche representative told Jalopnik:
For the time being, Porsche entering F1 with its own works team is not an option. As a member of the FIA manufacturers’ commission, Porsche is involved in the discussion about future power train strategies for F1 from 2021 onwards. Porsche LMP Team engineers have been ordered to check the pre-development/concept of a high performance combustion engine. This work is currently limited to 18 months while no specific conclusion has been defined.
This seems to support the “not Porsche” part of Horner’s statement, too—at least not until F1 develops its new engine regulations for 2021.
Either way, I’m all for seeing Aston Martin try their hand at building an F1 engine—so long as they don’t suck. They have by far the best engine note at WEC this weekend, so if anyone could make an F1 turbo V6 hybrid engine sound good, it’s definitely Aston.
UPDATE [9/17]: Now team principal Christian Horner is denying that the mystery brand is going to be Aston Martin:
So, who’s left? Not Aston, not Honda, not Porsche—who else does Red Bull have ties to in motorsport? That’s going to be a pretty long list if we’re drilling down to other series, development drivers and sponsored hotshoes.