Red Bull will look at Toro Rosso's progress with Honda for 2019 engine decision
Since the announcement of Toro Rosso taking up Honda as its engine partner to become a works team from the 2018 season, it has been speculated that Red Bull Racing will follow suit in 2019.
The senior Red Bull outfit's deal with Renault, which runs the engines under TAG Heuer branding, runs out at the end of 2018, with neither of the parties confirming an extension for any number of years.
The partition decision between the two has also been fueled with the increasing involvement of Aston Martin with Red Bull - while the luxury car manufacturer doesn't have an engine production facility, but it has the powers to work with an engine manufacturer.
While speaking to Formula 1's official website, Christian Horner admitted that it will look at Honda's progress with Toro Rosso in 2018, before making a decision during springtime.
"It is great that Honda remains in the sport and for sure, it is a great deal for Toro Rosso being a works team," said Horner. "Of course, from a Red Bull Group perspective it gives the opportunity to follow the progress of Honda before having to make a decision in springtime next year what our engine is for the future.
"[Right now] everything is open for 2019. Nothing is fixed. We will make a decision around spring to early summer next year."
The decision for Red Bull could be easier since Renault as a works team has started to make improvements and with McLaren also becoming its customer - there could be a chance for Red Bull to lose its priority status, when being given the new and upgraded power units.
"Renault has always provided a fair service. Every world championship, every Grand Prix victory we have achieved has been with a Renault engine – as a customer. They have always been very fair in providing equal services, so we have faith that this will continue.
"McLaren will go through a natural honeymoon with Renault. Fernando Alonso was their driver and so on, but we need to focus on our own business. As long as we get a fair service from Renault, that’s all we ask.
"And, of course, they want to bring up their own team, so we rely on their integrity as in all the previous seasons – in good and bad times, they have always provided parity of equipment," he said.
With a new deal with Aston Martin confirmed, which will see the two companies increase their involvements, it does shed some light on what could be the future. The 2021 regulations will be key as per Horner, for Aston Martin to officially jump into the F1 circus on a larger scale.
"Aston Martin is an interesting prospect – and it will really depend on what the regulations are for 2021, on which we will get the philosophy of the FIA and FOM the week after Brazil. If it allows an independent engine manufacturer to be competitive, a company like Aston Martin could quite easily work with a third party like Cosworth.
"From our perspective it all will depend on what the rules are and if an independent could be competitive. I think it is important for Formula One – for the commercial rights holder – to have a competitive, independent, cost-effective engine."
Having re-signed Max Verstappen until the 2020 season, Horner made it clear that Red Bull will remain in the sport till that time, adding that the 'desire is absolutely to continue [in F1]'.
Horner also aligned itself to Liberty Media's objectives of how they perceive F1 as a sport. According to him, technology should be inferior to the overall entertainment - making drivers the heroes rather than the manufacturers or the cars.
"Our objectives are reasonably similar to Liberty’s. For us F1 needs foremost to be entertainment. To engage with the fans it needs to put on great races and have great drivers battling it out every weekend," he said.
"Technology needs to play a lesser role, as costs are far too high. I think if we go to basics, to what F1 should be, you actually find that Red Bull and Liberty vision is relatively aligned. Red Bull’s existence in Formula One is a global marketing platform for the brand.
"We want the drivers to be heroes, we want to have great races – and want to win great races – and big events. Some of the venues that have been talked about in the future are highly exciting as well. So time will tell."