Simple truth in messy Red Bull divorce
Red Bull advisor Helmur Marko has given an honest admission about why the team was forced to split with engine supplier Renault at the end of the season.
Red Bull has been plagued by engine reliability issues in recent seasons and made the decision to cut ties with its French power unit provider and team up with Honda in 2019.
Marko said the simple difference in the amount of money Honda has to devote to its engine program compared to Renault meant it was more likely to help Red Bull challenge top dogs Ferrari and Mercedes - something that wasn't possible lately.
"For us, it was clear at one point that Renault could not deliver us a victorious engine," Marko told Motorsport Magazine.
"With their budget, you cannot expect them to fight against Ferrari and Mercedes. It was clear that we had to do something.
"Now, for the first time in our history, we have a factory engine. There is a good development, and all that has happened so far is good for Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso for next season."
The split was a point of tension between Red Bull and Renault as their divorce got ugly. Renault accused Red Bull of being disrespectful in its commentary of the decision and Max Verstappen has hit out at Renault's poor performance in his time in F1.
But Red Bull will be hoping more dollars equals more success and the team is already buoyed by what it's seen so far from its new stablemate.
Red Bull will adopt a different approach to their relationship with Honda compared to the style of McLaren, determined not to follow McLaren's perceived manner of micromanaging Honda.
Honda supplied McLaren's engines for three years between 2014 and 2016 before becoming Toro Rosso's exclusive power providers last season.
"We have done the diverse opposite to McLaren," Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky F1. "We've said, 'Go and build the best engine you can, and then tell us what size radiators you want and we will make it fit.'
"We want Honda to go for power over packaging."
Red Bull is convinced its new partner has greater potential to deliver as much engine power as enjoyed by Ferrari and Mercedes.
"We see an awful lot of encouraging progress being made," added Horner.
"Month by month, they are definitely closing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari. What we are really encouraged by is the progress Honda are making.
"It's positive for F1."
Earlier this year Horner said data about Honda's performance had convinced him it was the right move to end a decade-long relationship with Renault.
"We have come to the conclusion that Honda are making good progress on reliability and performance," said Horner. "Based on the information we had from Montreal, our decision, driven from engineering, was pretty clear cut in the end.
"We have thought long and hard about this decision. We have reached the conclusion that, purely for technically-driven reasons, that this is the right move for the future."
VERSTAPPEN JUST WANTS A CHANCE
Max Verstappen says he does not mind if his Honda engine "blows up" next season, as long as he is given more opportunities to win races than he was with the "consistently slow" Renault engine.
The Dutchman is itching to start F1 2019 already, telling Sky F1 this week it's clear the team's new engine partner already has more horsepower than Renault.
There are, however, still concerns about the reliability of the Honda power unit. The Japanese company supplied engines for Red Bull's junior outfit Toro Rosso this year and the team picked up more grid penalties than anyone else in 2018, while Pierre Gasly suffered a failure at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
But Verstappen insists he is not worried.
"I think this year has already been pretty good," he told Sky F1's Simon Lazenby and Nico Rosberg. "They have taken a lot of engines just because they could, because they were at the back or something happened.
"I prefer, maybe, to win a race and then blow up in one than be consistently slow."
Verstappen won two races in F1 2018, finishing the season with five consecutive podiums.
Optimism is mounting for the Red Bull-Honda partnership, as is confidence in the chassis the Milton-Keynes based outfit will run with next year.
"It all looks very promising but I want to be realistic," said Verstappen. "First, we still need to build a car, and then the engine should be reliable as well, and powerful."
Verstappen revealed Red Bull's technical guru Adrian Newey - the designer behind a record 10 constructors' championship-winning cars - is "very involved" in the team's chassis for next season.
"It's a very good thing," Verstappen added.