Helmut Marko: 'Red Bull Powertrains will run engines'

Published on 12 February 2021 by Mike Motilall

Dr. Helmut Marko, Red Bulls motorsport adviser, has told Motorsport-Magazin how Red Bull intends to handle the situation regarding the ‘engine freeze’ which was agreed upon on February 11th .

Formula 1 will freeze the development of the engines from 2022 till the end of 2024. From the start of 2025 a different spec of engine will be used. Red Bull’s wishes have been granted: “Today the final steps have been taken in setting up a new firm in Milton Keynes”, says Dr. Marko after a meeting of the Formula 1-commission, only to add: “Which will be called Red Bull Powertrains.”

Red Bull Powertrains will take over the Honda-engines after 2021 and will manage them from then on. Work space is also being created on Red Bull’s high-tech campus in Milton Keynes. “Building eight, which was already built, will be set up as the engine department”, says Dr. Marko.

The Austrian engine specialist AVL has already received orders to supply state of the art dynos. Only the best is good enough and Red Bull-owner Dietrich Mateschitz is digging deep into his pockets. That is the chief reason Red Bull is setting up shop with an own engine department instead of taking over Hondas subsidiary in Milton Keynes.

Red Bull Racing were forced to look for alternatives after Hondas decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021. A return to Renault-engines or a deal with Ferrari were no options for Red Bull given their ambitious targets after Mercedes also indicated that they were not able to supply engines either.

That’s why a very special plan was hatched in Fuschl, Graz and Milton Keynes after Hondas decision: Red Bull wants to take over Honda-engines and only use them. But this required a freeze of the development. Red Bull cannot and does not want to develop the hyper complex and extremely expensive power units themselves.

The engines will be homologized at the start of the 2022-season. Till the end of the engine regulations in 2024 the units are not allowed to be developed any further. The teams unanimously agreed upon this during a meeting by the commission. “I not only think this is good news for us but also for Formula 1 in general. This reduces costs considerably”, says Dr. Marko.

Costs will still remain a big factor for Red Bull, nevertheless it’s still all good and well because Red Bull have their eyes set on a bigger goal. “Building eight, one of our existing building, will be converted to a machine department”, Dr. Marko explains. Red Bull have received over the past weeks and months costs estimations and only have waited in placing final orders pending the result of the vote. The Austrian dyno specialist AVL can now start preparation for a major order.

However, the new engine plans are not to punch a hole in the race team’s budget. “It is a one-time investment in the building and especially in the dynos. But the running costs will not be that much higher than when we had bought an engine somewhere else”, Dr. Marko calculates. “It costs more, but not significantly more.”

Red Bull have already come to an agreement with Honda regarding the rights of intellectual property. It is possible that the running costs will be a lot less due to an engine naming partner. “Or course not another car manufacturer, but e.g. another company that is interested”, according to Dr. Marko. In the past Red Bull rebranded the Renault-engines in the name of watch maker TAG Heuer for financial reasons.

But Red Bull hopes to gain from the solution they found in the short run as well. “We are now building an engine that is suited for our chassis. The best comes from both worlds. If e.g. we had bought a Renault-engine, we would have needed to build our chassis, radiators and other components around that engine.”

Red Bull will remain getting full Honda-support in 2021. The Japanese have also promised to keep developing their power unit till the end of the year although during the season no updates are allowed. This means that Red Bull are able to start the homologized period in 2022 with an engine that has been developed till the very end.