(Motorsport-Total.com) – For fans and many industry experts, the Honda announcement on Friday that they would get out of Formula 1 at the end of 2021 came as a surprise. Not for Helmut Marko. As Red Bull’s motorsport consultant admitted in an interview with Red Bull’s own ‘Speedweek’, he and Dietrich Mateschitz had “known for a long time” about the Japanese automaker’s upcoming decision (unlike team boss Christian Horner, who, according to Marko, was “not into strategic matters involved “).
“Already long” means “in the course of the current season,” reveals Marko. In retrospect, it is interesting: in an interview with ‘Motorsport-Total.com’ on August 19, he already stated that the exit clause from the Concorde agreement, “that you can terminate annually”, was very important for Red Bull. “because our Honda contract currently ends in 2021”.
This sets the alarm bells ringing among Red Bull fans: Is there a risk that Red Bull will completely end its Formula 1 program after Honda leaves at the end of 2021? When asked whether there is such a danger, Marko does not answer with a clear no. But: “That is not our priority,” he says of the ‘Speedweek’. Ultimately, Mateschitz has to decide.
Ideally, this should happen “by the end of the year”. It is Marko’s task to work out all conceivable scenarios by then and to present them to Mateschitz. What that could be is currently being discussed in detail in a YouTube video on the Red Bull Honda situation on the Motorsport-Total.com and Formel1.de channels.
Video: Why Volkswagen could get into Formula 1
Editor-in-chief Christian Nimmervoll explains why an agreement with Mercedes or Ferrari is theoretically possible, but practically unlikely. And what Renault says about the possibility of being forced by the FIA to work with the two Red Bull teams.
Despite the unharmonious “divorce” from Renault at the end of 2018, Marko does not at least categorically rule out a return to the ex-partner: “Everything will be sorted. If we have results, we’ll see,” he remains vague and emphasizes: “We will research all possibilities. “
As discussed in the YouTube video, “all possibilities” could also include a long-term scenario of cooperation with the Volkswagen Group. According to information from ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, Volkswagen has already dealt intensively with Formula 1 in 2015 (with the Audi brand) and 2017/18 (Porsche). An idea that is still not dead to this day.
Although the motorsport activities of the Volkswagen brand will be completely switched to electric, CEO Herbert Diess recently caused a sensation with a post on LinkedIn. According to this, “Formula 1 with synthetic fuels is more exciting, is more fun, is a better motorsport experience and brings with it more technical competition” than Formula E.
In Formula E, two Volkswagen brands are currently competing against each other: Audi and Porsche. Many Wolfsburg connoisseurs do not believe that this will remain the case for a long time in view of the Diess statement. It is more likely, it is said, that Volkswagen will send one of the two brands into Formula 1. At least if the framework conditions are right.
Volkswagen: Entry only with a new engine format
That could be the case even if Formula 1 sticks to the combustion concept. Formula E already owns the electric drive for FIA world championships exclusively, so that is not an issue for Formula 1 in the short term. But the developments in the area of CO2-neutral fuels are being watched eagerly in Wolfsburg.
Theoretically, it is not planned to abandon the current hybrid engines until the end of 2025, when the new Concorde agreement expires. In practical terms, Volkswagen could get a Formula 1 program on track as early as 2024. And the conversion of Formula 1 to CO2-neutral biofuels or e-fuels – a basic requirement for this – would be technically possible by then.
But for this, Red Bull would have to bridge the 2022 and 2023 seasons without Honda as a partner. Possible variant: Red Bull takes over the Honda location in Milton Keynes, which is conveniently just a stone’s throw from its own factory – and continues the previous Honda program there under its own flag, because no completely new engine has to be developed anyway.
Until Audi, Porsche or another Volkswagen brand comes along. As of today, this is nothing more than a mind game. But one that makes sense. A Red Bull-Volkswagen marriage wouldn’t be entirely new either. The combination with Sebastien Ogier dominated the World Rally Championship for years, and years ago a collaboration in Formula 1 was considered, which then never came about.
Speculations that Marko does not comment on: “I’m thinking,” he says. No possible variant is excluded for the time being. And aimed for a quick solution. After all, it is also about not losing Max Verstappen, who certainly has corresponding exit clauses in his contract, should Red Bull not find a competitive engine …