Aston Martin’s elevation marks the beginning of the end for Red Bull

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

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    British road-car manufacturer Aston Martin announced this week that it is to become the title sponsor of Red Bull Racing from the 2018 season.

    Following their initial tie-up with the energy drinks giant in 2016 as an “innovation partner”, the iconic wings of the Aston Martin emblem will bear greater significance on Red Bull’s Formula One machinery in the future.

    “Title partnership is the next logical step for our innovation partnership with Red Bull Racing,” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement.

    “We are enjoying the global brand awareness that a revitalised Formula One provides. The power unit discussions [in Formula One] are of interest to us, but only if the circumstances are right.”

    “We are not about to enter an engine war with no restrictions in cost or dynamometer hours but we believe that if the FIA can create the right environment we would be interested in getting involved.”

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner added, “In addition, more than 100 Aston Martin staff will service the new Advanced Performance Centre on our campus here in Milton Keynes and it will allow us to collaborate further with Aston Martin on special, equally innovative, new projects.”

    Aston Martin’s elevation to title sponsor status is another welcome addition to the manufacturer portfolio for Formula One, despite the marque not yet in any position to develop its own power-unit.

    What this does is effectively mark the beginning of what’ll be Red Bull’s slow departure from the sport, which it fell out of interest with when the hybrid power-units were introduced in 2014.

    Their current engine partner in Renault, who have their power-units disguised under the TAG-Heuer moniker, have stated that they will not be powering Red Bull beyond the 2018 season – leaving the Milton Keynes outfit without an engine.

    The outcome of the divorce between McLaren and Honda, meant that the Japanese manufacturer found an alternative home on the grid, in the form of Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso.

    Ideally, another season of development in the low-key surroundings of Toro Rosso, would have Honda in a competitive enough position to power Red Bull from 2019. Though this outcome may now be unlikely with Aston Martin at the helm.

    Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Formula 1 drives down some straight track.

    (Aron Suveg/Red Bull Content Pool).

    Whatever the solution maybe between 2019 and 2021, it’ll only be a stop-gap period for Milton Keynes, ahead of a Red Bull departure which has been mooted for the end of 2020 – when the current Concorde Agreement to which they’re bound to has expired.

    The disillusioned Dietrich Mateschitz can at least take his teams out of the sport having made significant savings over the next few years, not having to spend on the expensive power-units with Honda as Red Bull’s engine supplier.

    Mateschitz’s departure will mean the end of the moaning that has engulfed Red Bull since the introduction of the hybrid engines in 2014. Red Bull constantly blasted Renault for their failures, despite winning consecutive titles across four years prior, and there was a belief that Formula One must appease the brand for them to remain in the sport.

    If Red Bull had the blood of a racing team then they would have adapted themselves to the new formula. And as many have suggested, looked at investing or innovating their own in-house power-unit.

    Though that would all be too expensive for the energy drink giant and would involve a greater level of accountability, rather than having it built for you and then throw the blame immediately on the other party.

    Where Aston Martin will now benefit from Red Bull’s departure is that the British manufacturer is set to go into collaboration with independent engine maker Cosworth and Formula One giant McLaren – who are also looking to revive themselves following a tumultuous tenure with Honda power.

    Whatever the framework will be for 2021, a triangular partnership between three parties would be unprecedented and certainly a method of drastically cutting costs, which has been a major detractor of the hybrid power-unit.

    The big ‘if’ is what that framework will be and whether it’ll be enough to entice this triumvirate into building the new generation power-unit. The hope is that with Liberty Media’s Ross Brawn at the helm of blueprinting the new formula, a compromise can be found between reducing costs and maintaining the hybrid element.

    Ultimately, this prolonged departure for Red Bull marks the end of a chapter that will never quite be remembered as a dynasty. What looms ahead certainly spells positivity for the longevity of Milton Keynes – without the ad nauseam of the big red bulls.