Red Bull Racing and sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso have just had their futures in Formula One secured with a brand new engine deal from French manufacturer Renault. For the 2017 and 2018 seasons both teams will receive Renault’s V6 Hybrid power unit but are open to badge the power units as they please, as Red Bull have done in 2016 with title sponsor (and watchmakers), TAG-Heuer.
Renault’s partnership with Red Bull has been a long and successful one, but more recently a stressful one. After 4 consecutive years of success from 2010 to 2013 where Renault won 4 World Championships with the Austrian drinks company – 2014 and 2015 were disappointing to say the least.
Renault hoped to remain competitive under the new V6 Hybrid Turbo era – even adding Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso to their engine supply (replacing Ferrari). But constant unreliability and lack of pace saw Red Bull finish 2nd in the Constructors to a dominant Mercedes in 2014 and dropping even further back to 4th in 2015 – something which the team struggled to bear.
The once strong relationship broke to pieces mid-way through 2015 when Red Bull publicly critiqued the French Manufacturer for their efforts during the season – creating a very widespread breakup. During the 2015 Russian Grand Prix – it was unsure whether Red Bull (and Toro Rosso) would even exist for the 2016 season.
Red Bull went searching for a 2016 spec power unit from Mercedes, Ferrari and even Honda with no luck. Fortunately Renault came to the help in the end – providing a badged power unit to the team whilst Toro Rosso sought out a 2015 spec Ferrari engine – the teams survived for another season.
It’s an interesting debate this one because Red Bull have been right on it this season and appear to have jumped Williams-Martini Racing and maybe even Ferrari. They’ve had a win and pole whilst still remaining reliable. However this was always a temporary solution and with all the success in recent week we really haven’t bothered to ask: ‘where to for 2017?’
This announcement, its a new beginning. Renault have proved so far this year they can provide a competitive engine – a win in Barcelona and a pole Monaco – memories of 2014 and 2015 have floated away. This move by Red Bull I think is just as brilliant as swapping Verstappen and sending Ricciardo out on super-softs for Monaco Q2.