Aston Martin could tie up with Red Bull Racing in Formula One as McLaren swap Honda for Renault
Aston Martin is considering entering Formula One as an engine supplier from 2021, Auto Express can exclusively reveal.
Andy Palmer, Aston Martin’s CEO, told Auto Express: “We are studying 2021 engine regulation changes and that might provoke us to supply an independent F1 engine if the conditions are appropriate.”
Aston Martin already has a technical partnership with Red Bull Racing, with its Valkyrie road car being developed with input from the F1 team. Becoming an engine partner of the Milton-Keynes-based former world champions would therefore make some sense.
Red Bull Racing’s relationship with Renault has become fractious over the past few seasons with the French company’s F1 hybrid engine lagging behind the performance offered by rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
With McLaren taking over the supply of Renault engines originally earmarked for Toro Rosso – now partnering with Honda for 2018 – the French manufacturer has decided to end its relationship with Red Bull. The partnership has been under strain for some time, with Red Bull branding its Renault engine supply with a TAG Heuer sponsorship deal since 2016.
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has also been quoted by Sky Sports F1 as saying: “There will be another announcement coming soon that isn’t Porsche or Honda. We have a relationship with a car firm”, further suggesting an engine tie-up with Aston Martin.
Current Formula One engines have been criticised for being too costly and too complex, with teams and drivers having to constantly manage performance and efficiency during the race. Rumours of more powerful twin-turbo V6 engines that will be more challenging for the drivers yet still with a careful eye on efficiency have been circling for a while. Combined with lower development costs and the idea of more exciting racing, that could tempt Aston Martin into the sport.
Aston already has a tie-up with Mercedes-Benz for use of engines and electrical architecture in its road cars, but Andy Palmer’s comments suggest any Aston Martin F1 engine would be much more than just a rebadged Mercedes unit.
Instead, Aston is more likely to work with the likes of racing engine specialists Ilmor. The British firm, run by Mario Illien, used to build Mercedes’ F1 engines before that part of the business was taken over by the German firm.
Illien has been consulting with the FIA on the planned engine changes and has been reportedly looking for a partner to work with on an engine for 2021 and beyond.
Cosworth is also an option with Aston Martin working with the legendary engine makers on the Valkyrie.
As well as the ongoing success of Aston’s road car business, it has also seen plenty of success on the racetrack, winning the GTE class at this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race.