Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner is flat-out denyinig reports that Red Bull could lose Max Verstappen in the wake of Honda’s surprising decision to quit Formula 1 after the 2021.
On Tuesday, Verstappen said Honda’s announcement that was leaving F1 is “a shame.” But Verstappen said that at the moment, his situation is the same. Verstappen is not looking for some loophole to get out from under his contract with Red Bull.
Horner went so far as deny that Verstappen, 23, might now activate an engine-related exit clause in his contract and leave.
“The contract between driver and team is confidential, but there is definitely no engine clause in our agreement with Max,” Horner told Austrian media outlet Servus TV. “Max is competitive, he feels very comfortable with the team and is confident in Honda’s program.
“He also knows that Honda will unveil another engine next season, and that motivates him. And 2022 is still a long way off.”
Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo announced that although the brand is quitting F1 after 2021, “We will build a new engine for 2021 so that we can win races alongside Red Bull.”
There are rumors that Red Bull could buy the intellectual propert to that 2021 engine, and team up with Milton-Keynes-based Mugen to finance and develop the resulting power unit program. That’s a racing marriage that worked for Honda and Mugen back in the 1990s during another period of Honda exit from F1.
“I don’t think they’re going to quit Formula 1,” said Ralf Schumacher when asked whether Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz might simply pull the plug. “The rules stipulate that an engine must be available, and Renault has already indicated that they are ready for that.
“It would also be possible for Red Bull to take it on for themselves, buying the system from Honda and perhaps getting some support. That would be a conceivable scenario with the option of a German manufacturer joining in 2025 or 2026,” the former F1 driver told European outlet Sport1.
Finally, Schumacher said he doesn’t believe that Honda is quitting Formula 1 simply because it wants to focus on greener technology, as is being reported.
“I think it’s a very convenient excuse,” Schumacher said. “A lot has happened because of corona. Many jobs are at risk and Honda is no different. The management will be concerned about costs.
“So it’s not just about green, it’s also about money.”
This late season engine announcement by Honda adds a different twist to silly season in Formula 1. Curious what you think. How will F1 look in 2022 with arguably the No. 2 engine manufacturer (if you believe Honda has passed Ferrari) heading into the sunset? Jump into the comments below and let us know your take.
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