Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has declared the signing of a 2017 Formula 1 engine deal with Renault “a formality.”
The renegotiated contract for Red Bull to use what are now TAG Heuer-badged Renault power units is due to expire at the end of the year. Earlier this month Renault confirmed its willingness to continue supplying Red Bull from next season via a letter to the FIA, as stipulated in the latest regulations pertaining to engine supply from 2017 onward. Now Horner has confirmed Red Bull’s intention to stay with Renault just nine months on from a situation when the relationship between the two appeared broken beyond repair.
“The relationship between ourselves and Renault has grown, and it would be a formality for the relationship to be extended in the very near future,” Horner said.
Horner confirmed the engine will remain branded as TAG Heuer under any new deal, rather than revert back to being called Renault.
“I think it works very well the way it is, so I don’t see any reason why we would want to change,” he added. “Renault has its identity through their team, and they are happy for TAG to have the identity on the power unit.
“It also works well for TAG, it works well for Red Bull. Everybody is happy. The first thing we have to do, though, is finalize our agreement on the power unit for future years, and then, of course, at that point we will sit down with the guys from TAG. But we have a multiple-year agreement with TAG.”
It was the new Renault engine that powered Daniel Ricciardo to the fastest time in Thursday practice ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. Ricciardo finished 0.606 seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton, and was 0.4s faster than last year’s pole lap from the Mercedes driver.
Even Horner conceded that was “surprising” but has given credit to Renault for the new engine giving Red Bull a possible shot at pole position and the win.
“It’s definitely helping,” Horner said. “This is one of the least sensitive circuits for power, but of course whatever you can get you gratefully receive.
“The driveability of the engine is good, it is delivering what has been advertised, and with the development that is coming through, it’s really encouraging.”
As to ending Nico Rosberg’s run of three straight Monaco wins, Horner was skeptical: “One of our best chances for success is on this type of circuit. The problem is you don’t know how much more Mercedes has to come when they wind their engine up.
“You’d have to say they are the favorites – but if we could get on the front row it would be an amazing result.”