Japanese automakers Honda, who currently supply only one team on the F1 grid – McLaren – have said they will not supply Infiniti Red Bull Racing and its junior/sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso with power units for the coming season, reports motorsport.com
A Honda spokesperson, referring to the automaker's chief of motorsport Yasuhisa Arai, said in an official statement from the company, “As Arai-san has said, Honda has no plans of supplying a second team next year, and this has not changed. As Honda have always said since returning to Formula 1, we are open to supplying additional teams in the near future.”
It would be a long process, both developmentally and logistically, to join forces with another team for the coming year, she said. "However, as it is very late in the 2015 calendar year to make such decisions, it is unlikely that we will be supplying any other teams for the 2016 season.”
Red Bull have already ended their relationship with engine manufacturers Renault, with whom they will split at the end of the 2015 season. Mercedes have already refused to supply the team with engines, saying it would be bad for competition. This leaves Red Bull with only one likely option – going onto Ferrari power.
In addition to the Italian automakers’ own iconic works team, Scuderia Ferrari, Marussia and Sauber also run on Ferrari power units, but have not had much success this season. F1’s latest entrant, Haas, will also be on Ferrari power units and are touted as Ferrari’s B-team, much like Toro Rosso are to Red Bull. Romain Grosjean was recently announced as the primary driver for the team.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is said to be keen on a deal between Red Bull and Ferrari, in addition to harbouring a desire to have Red Bull remain on the grid next year. Both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso have done well this season, with 3 podiums in total for Red Bull and standout performances from Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, who is the youngest driver to have ever joined Formula One, and the recently-turned-18 year old is still the youngest driver on the grid.
Ferrari have so far remained tight-lipped on any possible deal that may be in the works,
Mercedes recently agreed to a deal with Manor to supply the team engines for the 2016 season, which will now have a total of 4 teams on Mercedes power units – the works team, Force India, Williams and Manor. Lotus, who were on Mercedes power, have now been bought over by French automakers Renault, who will reform their once-successful works team.
Team Lotus announced earlier this year that Pastor Maldonado would continue to drive for them, but have not yet confirmed who will partner him.
New rules announced would mean that in the event of a Ferrari-Red Bull deal, the Italian automakers would have to supply Red Bull engines with entirely up-to-date specs, a rule that will be enforced from the 2016 season.
According to the revised version of Article 28.5 of F1’s Sporting Regulation proposed by the F1 Commission, the rulebook states: “Only power units which are identical to the power unit that has been homologated by the FIA in accordance with Appendix 4 of these regulations may be used at an Event during the 2016-2020 Championship seasons.”
This would mean that the exact same engine in the Ferrari chassis would need to be provided to Red Bull, and this could hit Ferrari's chances hard; this is especially relevant considering Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari were teammates through the 2014 season, with Ricciardo whitewashing Vettel whilst the two were in the same car. Given the same power units, Ferrari could see some serious competition, however, which will benefit the sport.
Meanwhile, team McLaren will continue to be on Honda power despite a dismal 2015 season, which has seen a total of 4 points finishes all year despite the drivers having three world championships among them. The British team recently announced Jenson Button would stay on for another year, with the Briton saying he may race through 2017 as well. It is likely partner Fernando Alonso will also be retained.
Honda and Red Bull do in fact collaborate within the realm of motorsport already, with Red Bull one of the chief sponsors of the Repsol Honda team, of which double world champion Marc Marquez is a part.