Verstappen committed to Red Bull despite engine concerns, says Horner

By Joe Wright 9 October 2020 3
Verstappen committed to Red Bull despite engine concerns, says Horner

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is not worried about the commitment of Max Verstappen despite the uncertainty over the team's next engine partner. 

Verstappen has claimed four race wins during Red Bull's two-year partnership with Honda, but the Japanese manufacturer will be leaving Formula One after the 2021 season. 

Horner accepts there is an onus on Red Bull to make sure they provide a competitive car for Verstappen, who sits third in the 2020 driver standings behind Mercedes due Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. 

However, he is not afraid the 23-year-old will already be considering his long-term future. 

"Max is committed to the team and there's no clause in our contracts that relate to engines," he told Sky Sports. "He wants to be competitive, we want to be competitive, so our goals are the same. 

"He has a lot of belief in the team, as we do in him, so it's our responsibility to make sure we have a competitive engine from 2022 onwards." 

Speaking of Honda's decision to end their partnership, Horner said: "Of course, it's disappointing, I think it's disappointing for Formula One to lose a brand like Honda. 

"We're grateful for them letting us know in plenty of time, so we've still got a year and a half left within our relationship. 

"It poses some big questions for the future but we've really enjoyed working with Honda, the collaboration has been great so far and there's an assurance that they're going to push all the way to the end of the relationship next year."

Horner believes now is an appropriate time for the sport to explore radical changes in engine technologies, aimed at levelling the playing field, keeping younger fans engaged and also aligning Formula One more closely with the global fight against the climate crisis. 

"It's a tough world at the moment; many things are changing," he said. "They [Honda] have made their reasoning clear: that their automotive investment and business is going in a different direction to that of Formula One and it poses some questions for Formula One to consider about future engine technologies. 

"It's brought into the spotlight what is the future of Formula One engines and should we even consider bringing a new technology forward from the 2026 introduction date. 

"If you look at the complexity of these engines, no manufacturer would come into Formula One under the current rules. I think we have to reduce significantly the cost, we have to reduce the variability between the engines. 

"Formula One has decisions to make about what is the future. We have an electric series in Formula E; we have bio fuels to consider and look at and the introduction of some of that is due in 2022. But do we look at something totally different for 2026 or ideally bring that forward to 2025? 

"You could consider hydrogen, other technologies. Or should Formula One just be entertainment and it be high-revving engines with an element of technology to them? There are some fundamental questions to be considered. 

"Whenever you hear a V-8, a V-10, a V-12 run, it's so emotive. We have to be careful that Formula One doesn't become a dinosaur, though, that our children still fall in love with the sport and it does have a relevance. It's a big question for Formula One. 

"The purist in me, the fan in me would love to go back to high-revving engines, but I think we also have a responsibility and an element of relevance. These engines currently don't have a great deal of road relevance. Yes, they're a hybrid, but there's not a lot of crossover into the car market at the moment, and that for a car company like Honda is very difficult."

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Joe Wright