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Time running out for Red Bull on engine decision

NEWS STORY
11/04/2018

Though it was strongly speculated that Renault had grown tired of Red Bull and, in the face of agreeing a deal with McLaren, wanted to give the Austrian team its marching orders, it seems the French manufacturer is still willing to supply its engines in 2019 to the team with which it won successive titles between 2010 and 2013.

Engine manufacturers have until the beginning of June by which time they must inform the FIA which teams they will be supplying in 2019 and as it stands Red Bull has yet to decide whether to stick with Renault or try its luck with Honda.

Though the Toro Rosso-Honda experiment appears to be working well, Pierre Gasly claiming a fine fourth in Bahrain, is it enough to convince the Austrian team to jump ship?

Then again, with Daniel Riccardo suffering an electrics issue on Sunday which leaves him on the cusp of a grid penalty should the team opt to change his energy store, can Red Bull really afford to continue with a relationship that over the last couple of years has gone from bad to worse.

The very public spat between Toro Rosso and Renault in Brazil last year, when the Faenza team, following a string of failures, essentially accused the French manufacturer of favouring its own team (as if) was a clear sign of just how fractious the relationship has become and some of the thinking going on behind the scenes.

As a result, Red Bull has a clear dilemma and only a couple of months in which to make a decision.

"Before we made the decision to work with Honda we believed it could be a successful package," Helmut Marko told Motorsport.com, referring to the move which saw Toro Rosso switch to the Japanese engine manufacturer, "once they showed us what they were planning to do.

"When the time is right, we'll make our decision," he added. "There's a bigger picture which we have to look at. It's going in the right direction, and you journalists should know that we are brave."

"We've got a great front row seat to follow progress through the first half of the season," added Christian Horner. "That's very much our game plan."

Whatever the decision for 2019, in the meantime there is the little matter of this season, the Austrian team having suffered a double retirement in Bahrain which leaves it trailing McLaren in the standings and only five points clear of Renault.

"The problem of Ricciardo is it is not the first time it's happened," Marko told Motorsport.com, referring to the Australian's issue on Sunday which followed a similar failure in pre-season testing.

"What can you do when a technical issue just stops you completely?" he continued. "We were unlucky with Max, he got such a heavy hit. It broke the wheel, and also the diff was damaged in the impact. But first we have to sort out our qualifying, but we need a fast and reliable engine."

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1. Posted by imejl99, 12/04/2018 11:59

"Probably we will never know if it was all Honda or there was some McLaren. Regarding reliability, we can be quite sure it was Honda. Overall performance.... it is always whole package. We will see how it goes with Renault, does McLaren needs to do some self-checking or else. On the other hand, we all expect for any PU manufacturer to improve over time, so in fact we should be surprised if Toro Rosso Honda still suffers with reliability going forward. That would surely be Honda. We witnessed, according to team itself, that TR upgrades and mostly setup contributed to performance. And PU was reliable... All of what I wrote is no news for any of us, armchair pundits.

Interesting, and occasionally if not rarely mentioned, is cultural barrier. From personal experience dealing with Japanese business people, it requires patience, balancing, confidence and familiarity with cultural differences. For example, if you oppose to senior Japanese manager`s or executive`s suggestion or proposal in front of other staff, on any given conference or meeting, it is a great insult. Very difficult to go forward. But, if you listen, but you are not excited about that proposal, you just acknowledge it to take it into consideration, then you are appreciated. They would know that they are wrong by your reaction, suggestion is not god, but face saved. They even might ask you if you have any suggestion. Things will happen, deals will be done. Other thing is, they almost never explain their moves. If you are "lower rank" just do. Don`t ask. Very, very difficult to adjust.

It won`t hurt if we bear in mind those cultural differences any time we read or comment on McLaren, Toro or Red Bull news regarding Honda. "

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2. Posted by Joop deBruin, 12/04/2018 2:32

"McLaren lead Torro Rosso in points. What's the big deal about the lawn mower power unit manufacturer?"

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3. Posted by NS Biker, 11/04/2018 21:30

"TR and Honda need to demonstrate they can come top 10, consistently for the rest of the season. And this would need repeating, two successive races without grid penalties .... for the rest of the season.
My bet is that they can and will succeed and if so ... what would the recommendation be for C. Horner.?
Domo arigatou."

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4. Posted by nonickname, 11/04/2018 13:30

"It is not a 1 race improvement. They were constantly fast every day of practice and ran a huge number of laps. They will take each race as a 3 day maximum effort test and in so doing get 20 test sessions this year.
The engine penalties they will laugh off and Red Bull and Torro Rossa will have a great motor for next year"

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5. Posted by kenji, 11/04/2018 11:51

"I fail to see how the results of one race with Honda is proof of anything! The fourth place was only because of three retirements anyway. The time differential was also pretty much way off the pace of the other teams. Typical of F1 media to be trying to raise the Honda benefits when all we've seen is a very minor improvement over a very short period."

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 11/04/2018 11:25

"Isn’t Aston building them one from scratch for free...?"

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