Mercedes in favour of Formula 1 engine freeze from 2022

Luke Smith
·3-min read

Red Bull is currently exploring alternative power unit solutions for the future after existing supplier Honda announced at the start of the month it would be quitting F1 after the 2021 season.

The team has made clear its preferred option would be to buy the IP and designs of its power unit from Honda, so it could continue to be used beyond 2021 and maintain its effective works status.

But this would be on the condition of a power unit development freeze being agreed between F1's manufacturers, with Red Bull unwilling to get into a spending war with Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari.

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff said on Saturday that he would be in favour of an engine freeze to ensure Red Bull and its sister team, AlphaTauri, could continue using the Honda power units beyond 2021.

"I think Formula 1 is in a good state with three engine suppliers," Wolff said. "I totally understand where Red Bull is coming from. They don't want to go back to a customer status.

"They want to be a works team and they have the capability of tweaking it and maybe optimising it, and maybe there are a few things in the pipeline from Honda that are giving them confidence that there is more performance in the engine.

"But I think we should be doing everything to give Red Bull that opportunity."

Should an engine freeze not be agreed to, Red Bull would be able to get a power unit supply from former partner Renault. The French manufacturer has said it is open to a deal, but thought it was unlikely Red Bull would want to resign itself to customer status.

The sporting regulations also mean that Renault would be obliged to supply Red Bull with engines for 2022 should the team submit a request with the FIA.

But Wolff understands Red Bull's desire to maintain its works status without taking on the sizeable costs involved with developing power units.

"I understand that they don't want to go into a spending war with all the other OEMs on developing engines," Wolff said when asked by Motorsport.com why he was supporting the plan.

"It's a sensible proposal. I'd like to support it.

"I think Red Bull is a tremendously important brand for Formula 1, and we should do everything to keep the two teams in Formula 1 and help them with the option of having basically works status."

Asked if he was concerned that Red Bull was trying to force F1 into an engine freeze, Wolff said it was part of the regular gamesmanship in the series, and that he was happy with any solution that kept its teams on the grid.

"I think in Formula 1, everybody is trying to get the best deal, the best financial deal and best performance deal," Wolff said.

"This is the current position and I can live with either. I can live with them taking a customer engine or help to fund the Honda development programme or do it on their own.

"I am easy with either decision."

The possibility of an engine freeze is set to be discussed in an F1 Commission meeting on Monday.