- Cyril ABITEBOUL (Renault)
- Toto WOLFF (Mercedes)
- Mattia BINOTTO (Ferrari)
Q: Let’s get straight to the biggest story of the week, which is the news that Honda are going to be pulling out of Formula 1 at the end of next year. Please can we start by getting each of your reactions to the news, starting with Cyril please.
Cyril ABITEBOUL: Well, I think the first element to say is that it’s never positive news when you have such an important participant to the sport of today and of yesterday that decides not to continue. I think the explanations, the narrative around their decision are clear and to a certain degree are shared by everyone in this world and in the automotive. We all appreciate the agenda of sustainability and to what extent Formula 1 needs to respond to that but we feel that actually Formula 1 is a great platform in relation to that so I think it just shows that we need to do more, better, stronger in response of the expectation towards this important topic of sustainability. The rest obviously is the sport and we have a bit of time to see the impact on the grid and on the different teams currently powered by Honda.
Toto, please, your thoughts.
Toto WOLFF: Yeah, I’ve a slightly different view. I think it’s a shame that Honda has decided against Formula 1. I believe it’s always a ratio of risk versus return. At the end of the day each of us needs to provide an ROI – Return on Investment – that makes sense. So, whatever capital you deploy for the investment in Formula 1 needs to guarantee or needs to return sensible marketing value and, if that is not the case, I can understand that somebody says ‘we’ve tried it and it didn’t function’. Unfortunately this sport is about, in my belief, not only about investment but also that all the investment doesn’t buy you success because it’s a long-term commitment that you need to provide. We have seen it with Mercedes: we had a couple of really painful years and managed to turn it around. In the past, OEMs came and left, many of them, including Honda, BMW, Toyota and many more and yeah, that’s unfortunate. I think it needs… Formula 1 needs a stable commitment from all of us and needs to have the buy-in from the board, saying ‘OK, we launch ourselves into this, it might be difficult, we’re setting our expectations low but at a certain time we will turn this around.’ But, at the end, we need to accept it. It’s certainly not great for us to lose an engine manufacturer It’s a problem for Red Bull so yeah, I’ll be missing those guys. They were a good part of the paddock.
Mattia BINOTTO: Certainly I think that we are all sharing that it is not great losing Honda. It’s not great to lose such a big engine manufacturer. Honda is certainly a big name in Formula 1. They have been a big name, they are today a big name. I think it’s a shame that we will have only three engine manufacturers, that somehow it’s something that needs to be addressed, try to attract more power unit manufacturers for the future. I think, on the other side, it’s not a surprise that OEMs are joining or leaving. As Toto said, it is not the first time. It has always happened – except one, which is Ferrari. I think somehow it’s something that has always happened. I think we know that Formula 1 is anyway in a good period. It will grow. Very positive, what is happening with the growth of F1 towards the business, towards the sustainability. I think we’ve got great challenges ahead, so I think we should… certainly it’s not great news but we need to keep positive because I think for F1 we’ve got a great future ahead and I think it’s somehow down to us to even try to improve it and to attract – eventually – new OEMs.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) It’s a question to all three please. One of the key differences between Honda and the respective manufacturers that you represent is that they didn’t have a works team underpinning the engine project at the same time. So, do you think there is any value in Formula 1 just being an engine supplier at the moment – and what would you like to see done to improve the value of being an engine supplier, even in the form of a spending cap for engine manufacturers or possibly prize money for the engine manufacturers?
MB: For us it’s no question. We are a team, we are as well a power unit manufacturer. It has always been like that in our history, and that’s a big value. So, I certainly would believe it’s an important value. What can we do to improve? Certainly the engines are very expensive today. The cost of the development is very high and I think if we compare to what it has been years ago, it has increased a lot. We need to control those costs, we need to try to reduce them. We just changed the regulations, as a matter of fact, tried to freeze as much as we could the engine developments, tried to reduce dyno running for the next years, which is certainly a step forward, eventually not sufficient. I think now we will have the opportunity of brand new regulations in 2026 and I think that by designing the new regulations, we need not only to decide what will be the technical choices or the technologies we intend to develop but to look at the cost of the product itself. I think when we were drawing or we decide for the 2014 regulations we’ve been much focussed on the hybrid format, much focussed on the technologies, making sure that somehow F1 was a platform of innovation – but we completely forgot the cost. And I think that in the last years the cost of the power unit has been certainly too high. Now, I think that it will be an important discussion that eventually we need to accelerate, try to understand the vision for the power unit format of the future, because it’s cost, it’s technology will be a key element again to attract new OEMs and if we can even eventually anticipate for 2026 I don’t know actually. I think the time is very short but we need to certainly accelerate the discussion and understand the format for the future.
TW: We have been on both sides. We have had a really successful spell as an engine supplier to McLaren but made the decision at the end of 2009 to buy a team because we saw more marketing value, better return on investment by owning a team – so we’ve seen those both sides. How the business case went for power unit manufacturers. It’s certainly not how it should continue in the future. When I joined Formula 1 with Williams in 2009 I remember the power units that they utilised, they cost US$20million and more. Today we have an obligation to supply at the price that is much below that. With the hybrid introduction, like Mattia said, it was an engineering exercise: what kind of engine can we actually develop? And we didn’t realise that we would have a fantastic engine with, today, more than 50 per cent thermal efficiency that doesn’t exist in any other sport. We started to message around it in 2014 with, chief Indian Bernie, that this is really all not good for Formula 1 and the noise is not enough and somehow you can’t sell your product by talking negative about it. So, we’re still lacking the messaging that these engines are fantastic hybrid technology but they’re much to expensive. So we need to introduce a spending cap for power units that’s clear, like we’ve done on the chassis side in order to make it more sustainable and in order to attract other OEMs in the future.
CA: I have very little to add because I fully agree with what’s been said. For Renault, it’s exactly the situation that we’ve experienced in 2015 when we asked ourselves whether to get out completely or get back in completely as a works team because, for us, at that time it had not got any better. There is simply no business case to support the positioning as engine supplier only given the cost of the technology and the very poor marketing reward you can get out of that whether you do a good job or a bad job. Having said that, you can imagine some teams that can be good at partnering with engine manufactures such that engine manufacturers do not need to buy into a team – but I guess that would also take a bit of different thinking than the thinking that is currently in place at Red Bull. Let’s be honest, we’ve tried that, we failed, that’s why we had no choice but to do what we are doing, which is running and owning a works team ourselves.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Cyril, I believe you’ve already spoken about this so I’ll address this question to Toto and Mattia – would you be open to supplying Red Bull with an engine supply beyond 2021 when Honda pulls the plug? I know it’s something you’ve both explored and talked about in the past and rejected it but would you be open to doing that in the future?
TW: No. Because… for various reasons… but the main being that we are supplying four teams including us. We are almost in a state that we can’t make power units for all of us so there is no capacity. But I have no doubt that Helmut will have a Plan B, as he said, and probably doesn’t need to rely on any of the current power unit suppliers.
MB: Obviously we were not considering it. Something that we need to start considering now. I think we have not decided, as far as I think it will be down to Red Bull eventually to look at us and ask for a supply. They are a great team, no doubt. I think that supplying them is as well a lot of energy, somehow, which is required but something which we need to consider and something on which we have no position yet. On which we need certainly to take our time to think at and have a decision. I think timing-wise, it’s very little time – because we need to organise ourselves, 2022 is just here behind, which is tomorrow, somehow. So, as we said, it was somehow sudden news from Honda and I think that now we need to consider something that was even not considered a few days ago.
Before we move on, Cyril, can you just clarify whether you have or have not had contact from Red Bull about an engine supply from 2022?
CA: I can confirm I have not been contacted by Red Bull in relation to engine supply. More seriously, I don’t think it’s a question of whether we are open or not open. To the question before. We know the regulation. When you are a participant to the sport you have to accept the rules. It’s part of the sporting regulation. So, we know what that is. We also know the details, including in terms of timing and as anyone can check in the sporting regulations, there is still quite a bit of time before we get there. As Toto has said, I can’t imagine that they don’t have a Plan A or Plan B and I think we are very far in the pecking order of the alphabet before they call us again. Yeah.
Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Question for all of you. The discussion we’re having now, they sound a lot like the discussion of a few years ago when we made the plan for 2021, which is now 2022 when the power unit was on top of the list to change for the future. Now, nothing changed for the power unit but Honda pulled the plug. Do you think that Formula 1 missed the chance, and we should have had changes earlier than 2026?
TW: I don’t know the specific reasons why Honda left – because there certainly will be many layers that led to this decision and I think return on investment is probably the most important one. Should we have changed the regulations? The problem is that if we would have changed them earlier it would have meant an additional investment for all of us, which wouldn’t have been sustainable, and after a couple of years, three-four years, you’re starting all over again. Where we all came together: Honda, Ferrari, Renault and ourselves was that after 2025 would be the right time. Certainly, a cost cap and some kind of freeze needs to be introduced earlier – bearing in mind that we need the status where all engines are about equal. We don’t want to have a situation where we’re freezing power units and there’s big discrepancies in performance. But going forward, we need to all sit on a table, discuss what is the right technology for the real world; how can we simplify technology in order to spend less and then have a new format that everybody buys into from 2026 onwards.
MB: I think that the time was not mature enough to change completely the format earlier. I think we took main actions in the meantime, still tried to manage the situation, which have been cost reductions through the measures of dyno reduction and somehow partial freezing of the power unit itself in the next seasons. I think convergence was one of the other matters, which I think is somehow happening and will happen in the next years. If we would have changed eventually it would not have happened in the timing, which again I think that was should a good reason not to change at the time. And we should even not forget that anyway the regulations for the power unit are changing still. We’ve got E10 fuel for 2022 and we are pushing for a more sustainable fuel before 2026, so I think that in terms of sustainability there is much we are doing for the power unit and for F1 from now unit 2026 and we have adopted measures, as I said, for containing costs and I think convergence will happen. So it’s not true that simply changing earlier would have been the right move because again I think in terms of what’s useful for automotive eventually it was too early to understand.
CA: I don’t think we need to live looking back and we can’t live regret. I believe Formula 1 needs to be in control of its own agenda and have its own scheduling without being under the hook of any particular individual, and I’m not talking just about Honda, I am talking about any company in the sport. We are 10 teams; we have a number of manufacturers. But equally we need to move forward. I think that what matters most is that we define what is the right technology for the next generation. There are many technologies that are emerging. We see that the automotive world is full of doubts. A few years ago we were never talking about hydrogen. It’s a new thing up and coming. Will it be adequate or appropriate for Formula 1, who knows, I don’t know. I think it’s important to pause a bit, wait to make the right decision. But having said that maybe one thing that we could do is do a group that could be a joint group of people, of experts, between all manufacturers, just like we worked on breathing systems for COVID. It was amazing to see actually this collaboration between teams. That’s something we could do to do some advanced research, advanced study for the next generation of power unit to make sure that it is right in terms of show, in terms of cost, as Mattia has mentioned, in terms of competitiveness and in terms or marketing platform, and we should do that sooner rather than later.
Q: Thank you. Cyril mentioned COVID there, Toto, coming to you: you have had two positive COVID tests in the team this weekend. Please can you tell us what measures have been put in place to contain the spread of the virus?
TW: Yeah, so we are testing constantly back in Brackley. Everybody tested between Monday and Wednesday and there was not a single positive case. And then when we arrived we did a second test and one person was tested positive and was obviously quarantined and everyday around him that was in the car or worked with him also got quarantined and they had the second test now that is negative. And then we had a second positive test and also everybody who was around him was put in quarantine. We flew six people in from the UK; they were all tested. It’s certainly not a good situation because every person is very important but I guess this is something that is going to follow us for quite a while.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) – Toto, you said in Russia that the penalty for Lewis was a bit too harsh in your view, because actually there was no clear cut regulation. As you said it was behind pit exit lights but what is behind. I think the FIA called it common sense. Do you understand why the FIA didn’t penalise Charles in Belgium for a similar infringement, although admittedly Charles was not as far down the line as Lewis was? And the same question to Mattia, please?
TW: I think as always with these things you must admit that you have a certain bias. There was no clear regulation. It said after the pit exit to the line and after the pit exit lights. Lewis took it quite far but still within what was said in the event notes. I felt additionally that the penalty was too harsh. Putting a reconnaissance lap breach, if it was a breach, into the race. We had speeding before in the pit lane and that wasn’t carried over into the race and then giving two five-second penalties for the same incident where he wasn’t at fault, because we told him he could do that, but he obviously went further than expected. We didn’t see thee first one on telly either. It’s probably too harsh, and this is what I said. At least the points were taken off. I think anyway, penalty points were invented for qualifying and race incidents that were deemed to be dangerous – yellow flag incidents or crashes that could have been avoided. Now we are having points for many infringements that are not safety critical and I think we need to think about that going forward.
Q: And Charles Leclerc’s in Spa?
TW: I saw Charles situation and it was the same – that he was after the position that was indicated in the event notes. He wasn’t that far down the pit exit as was Lewis but nevertheless he was still after the line. We have still some variability between penalties on one side, something that from the pure optics looked much less of an infringement, which was Charles, but nevertheless behind the line and behind the lights, and that was penalised an then on the other side you had a situation where Lewis was further down the line and still in the same position and was awarded two five-second penalties. We need to have a little bit of a more of a balance situation and as I said before two five-second penalties were in my opinion too harsh.
MB: Yeah, we do not comment on stewards’ decisions, so we fully trust what they are doing and somehow their decision. I think relative to Charles, I think that the situation was completely different in Spa. There was a Race Director’s note indicating that drivers could have somehow passed the line just to make that they were avoiding to have a queue in the pit lane. That’s exactly what Charles did, just passing by two metres the line, to avoid any queue, without having any advantage from that move. So, I think that situation was completely different and that’s simply our view on the Charles fact in Spa.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Just going back to Coronavirus. Whose side of the garage does it affect and how heavily do you expect it to impact Mercedes’ weekend here?
TW: Well, every loss of an important member in the garage affects the race but I think we have got it under control by having back up back in Brackley and they came and in that respect I think we should be in control of that situation.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Another question on the coronavirus for Toto. Given that a positive for a driver could swing the championship, if Lewis or Valtteri were to test positive, what extra advice are you giving them on how they behave in between races, what they can do and what they can’t do?
TW: Obviously the drivers are the most restricted of the whole group, of the whole team. Certainly not a great situation for them because you almost need to live like a hermit and that’s what they are doing. They are at home. They are not going out for dinners. They are not meeting any other people. Within the team we do the debriefs via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. They are not sitting with the engineers in the room. They are sitting in their own rooms and we are avoiding as much as possible any personal contact with them. And we try do it as literally stepping into the car and keeping their distance as we belt them in and then drive. Because, as you say, that is really critical for the championship, if you miss a race or two. So, unfortunately for them, they need to live a life that is a bit secluded but we think the decisions we have taken are good and protect them.
– Franz TOST (AlphaTauri)
– Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing)
– Masashi YAMAMOTO (Honda)
Q: Yamamoto-san, Honda has announced it is pulling out of Formula 1, how difficult a decision was that?
Masashi YAMAMOTO: Naturally it was a difficult decision for us to have to make. We had to make the decision to work on future carbon neutral projects.
Q: Will you continue to develop the power units until the end of 2021?
MY: Of course. So given the excellent partnership we have with both SAT and RBR, as our CEO said in his presentation what we are going to be doing going forward is implementing our new structure PU and in doing so hoping we can further strengthen the relationship we have with both teams and get as many wins as we can.
Q: As you say, great relationship with both teams. You’ve also had great success. Is there a sense that Honda is pulling out just as a championship challenge is on the horizon?
MY: Of course that’s a very difficult question. For those of us on the ground, given the fantastic relationship we have with both teams, going forward we are going to be making the absolute most of each race as it come, as I say, to get as many wins as we can.
Q: Christian, coming to you, how much of a surprise was this to you?
Christian HORNER: Obviously it was incredibly disappointing but there have been discussions ongoing for several weeks now and you could see the dilemma that Honda were facing. Obviously final confirmation of that came at the beginning of last week and then public confirmation last Friday. Hugely disappointing because it’s been a great partnership in the first 18 months or so we’ve spent together but we full respect and understand Honda’s decision making and we’re grateful for the courtesy they have given us in giving us time to evaluate solutions for the future. In the meantime in the almost 18 months that we have remaining in this relationship we’re determined to achieve as much as we possibly can both in the balance of this year and particularly in 2021.
Q: So, what is next for your team in terms of power unit supply?
CH: Obviously we need to consider all our options. A team like Red Bull is not a standard customer team. The team’s aspirations are extremely high. It wants to win. It wants to compete and win world championships. We need to take the time to do our due diligence on the options that are available to us in order to finalise our thinking certainly by the end of the season and most definitely by the end of the year. We have to consider all the options and make decisions following that.
Q: Thanks. Franz, of the Red Bull-funded teams yours has the longest relationship with Honda. How much does this set you back in the quest to become the sister team to RBR, rather than the junior team?
FT: First of all the decision from Honda of course is a big shock for us. As you said we have a very long relationship with them and very successful as well. But we have to take it like it is and we thank them for the real good job they have done with us and the rest then we will see. We made good steps forward and now Red Bull will decide which power unit we will use from 2021 onwards and I hope we can continue with all the synergy processes and also have success in the future.
Q: (Phil Horton – Motorsport Week, via email) How many times prior to Friday’s decision had Honda previously come close to abandoning the Formula 1 project?
MY: That’s a very difficult question. The fact is that after we signed the extension with both teams in December last year a lot of different conversations started at that point. Naturally we also considered pursuing both Formula 1 and the work that we are doing before the rapidly approaching requirement for carbon neutrality. In the end the decision was taken to shift our top engineers to the work on future power units etc and unfortunately we were unable to continue with Formula 1 as a result of that.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Christian, is Cyril Abiteboul back on your Christmas card list and then the primary question to Yamamoto-san: Formula 1 announced plans for total carbon neutrality, net zero carbon by 2030, I believe Honda has announced plans for 2050 so isn’t 2030 earlier than ’50, is it not low enough and why did you then decide to extend your commitment to IndyCar which is not even on hybrid engines yet?
CH: Well, Cyril’s always been on my Christmas card list, in answer to Dieter’s question. I guess where he’s taking that is, obviously Renault have to be considered as a potential supplier in the future so I think Renault is a different organisation than the last time they supplied us. They have a new chairman who seems passionate about Formula 1 which is good to see. Formula 1 needs that drive from the top of an organisation, that enthusiasm, otherwise it’s impossible to achieve success in this sport. As I said earlier, we have to consider all options.
MY: Naturally we respect the regulations that the FIA and F1 are looking to implement going forward. I think when we look at the overall target of carbon neutrality, we’re both moving in the same direction. However, given that Honda has customers all over the world for its automobile products, its motorbikes and also its general use products, there was the need for us to move our top engineers at an earlier stage to working on future carbon-neutral products. Going to your question about IndyCar: IndyCar, from our point of view, our work on IndyCar is run by HPD which is an independent part of Honda within in America. In this case, a lot of our R&D stuff based in Japan, which meant that for our future work we had to allocate engineers to, otherwise they’d be working in Japan.
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com) Christian, Helmut Marko talked last month about an engine-related clause in Max Verstappen’s contract but last week, you said there was no engine-related clause in his contract. Which is correct?
CH: Well, obviously we don’t want to go into the details of a driver’s contract; that’s private and confidential between the driver and the team. What I can tell you is that Max is totally committed to the team; he’s in the same situation as us that we don’t want to go soapbox racing in the future, we need an engine, we need a competitive engine. He needs a competitive engine to achieve the success that we believe he’s capable of and he believes very much in this team still, that the team can achieve that success. We’re in the same boat and, as I say, that boat needs a competitive engine. You probably do need a boat this weekend, looking at the weather outside – so that’s where we’re at.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Christian, among the options that you’ve got, how practical or appealing is a Honda continuation project, even funded by Red Bull or in conjunction with another technical partner, should you be able to find one?
CH: I think, as I say, we have to look at all of the options and we have to take the time in order to do that. Red Bull need a competitive engine. Its aspirations are not just that of a customer team. When you look at the costs involved in the engine supply, they are enormous and that’s why Formula 1 has failed in its attempt to attract new engine suppliers, new manufacturers into the sport, so it brings into real focus those costs, those cost-drivers through the regulations etc and I think Honda’s withdrawal is a real shame for Formula 1 but it’s also a wake-up call and I think that we really need to consider is 2026 too far away for the introduction of a new engine. What will that technology be? What should it be? They are questions that are going to need to be answered quickly in order to give a road-map to what the future of the sport is.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Just to go back to Christian on that engine option thing, is it really now just a situation that you only really have three options, although you say you’re going to investigate all options, there are only three manufacturers in the sport and as you say, the costs are so huge, does it come down, effectively, to just those three manufacturers?
CH: Well, there are no new manufacturers lining up to come into Formula 1. I think Toto, in his early conferences, obviously made it clear that Mercedes are not keen to supply an engine so that limits your choice to therefore two current suppliers in the sport. And as I say, we need to take the time to do our due diligence, we want to compete and we want to win World Championships; that’s the reason that Red Bull is in the sport, that’s what it’s here to do and we can only do that with a competitive power unit and that’s where we need to take our time to, as I say, do the necessary investigation and due diligence.
Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Christian and Franz, please: could someone like Andy Cowell be of interest to Red Bull to build or develop whatever engine you manage to secure? And Franz, could you use a different engine supplier from Red Bull Racing, moving forward?
FT: No, we don’t want to use a different power unit as Red Bull Racing is using because we want to continue with the synergy process. I don’t want that AlphaTauri start once more designing our own gearbox, the complete rear suspension, all this kind of stuff. We have a very close co-operation with Red Bull Technology and we want to continue with them and therefore we want to have the same engine.
CH: I think… speculation goes from nought to hundred miles an hour in this sport and obviously Andy is a very capable guy but I’ve got no idea what his current plans… what he’s currently up to. My last understanding is that he’s still working on projects, obviously for Mercedes-Benz. And as I say, our priority at the moment is looking at what is the most competitive power unit for us, from 2022 onwards and we need to make that decision by the end of this year?
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To both the Red Bull team principals, just following on from what Julien had said in terms of separate engine suppliers, there is a possibility that it could actually come down to that whereby one gets, say, a Ferrari and the other one gets a Renault engine. How do you overcome the situation because obviously there could be some politics at play in this?
CH: I think it’s very much a two for one scenario, so due to synergy project, due to integration of the drive train, then it’s inconceivable to think that the two teams could operate on different power units and that introduces all kinds of complexities, particularly with IP etc from the different suppliers, so it would be way from ideal to put teams on different power unit solutions.
FT: There is nothing to add, this is what I mentioned before. We want to work (with) the same power unit as Red Bull Racing because of the synergies which we have built up in the past years and we don’t want to come back (to) where both teams have a different power unit and we can’t use any more their synergies which are so important for both teams.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) For Christian and Yamamoto-san: I’m sure that Honda wants to exit Formula 1 on successful terms. Can you confirm that Honda will develop a completely new engine for 2021 first? And maybe both gentlemen can elaborate on the possibility, if it would be a potential avenue for Honda to sell IP and their technology and the Milton Keynes to Red Bull?
MY: Quite possible ready for next year of course we’re going to be pushing forward with the development of a new structure, PU. In terms of the Milton Keynes factory and the facilities there, at the moment it is a blank slate. It could be that the conversation with Christian is something that we have going forward but at the moment nothing is decided.
CH: As I say, we are committed to 2021 so it’s full force, full effort for the rest of this year but also 2021. It’s great that Honda really stepped up for next year as well. They’re not looking at leaving on a whimper. They really want to push throughout next season as well which is a real fighting spirit, both within Sakura and within Milton Keynes, which is fantastic but obviously we’ve been digesting the news but no formal discussions have taken place.
Q: Yamamoto-san didn’t rule out you continuing with the engine in 2022. How seriously would Red Bull consider that?
CH: I think, as I said earlier, we’ve got to consider all of our options. A team like Red Bull has big aspirations. It’s a winning team, we’re the only team in Formula 1 in the hybrid era that has won with two power units. We gave Honda its first podium, its first victory in the hybrid era, as we did for Renault with their hybrid. So we have to weigh up all of the options and what will give us the most competitive package for 2022 onwards. We have a big regulation change coming for 2022 and the engine plays an integral role within that so we will take the time to discuss with the manufacturers, discuss with the FIA, to discuss with Liberty in terms of what their thoughts are for the future as well because obviously it’s bad news for the sport that a manufacturer such as Honda has decided to withdraw for the reasons that they have.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Just to follow-up on Christian’s answer and also on what you said earlier about the cost of an engine project with this set of engine regulations. Is it an insurmountable cost to Red Bull and is this the most logical or practical opportunity that Red Bull would have to take on an engine project, given that there is existing resource that could be taken over, IP, that sort of thing?
CH: Well, look, it’s like all things. You’ve got to consider all possibilities. You’ve got to be open to all possibilities. We see in this sport that sometimes the unexplainable can happen and it’s our duty to look at what is the most competitive way forward in 2022. We have the time. Honda have afforded us that time. If they’d have made this decision in the spring of next year or in the autumn of next year, it would have been a far worse scenario for us, so we’re only just halfway through the relationship with Honda and we’ve achieved a lot in the time that we’ve been together, we aim to achieve a lot more in the remaining time that we have together, and obviously there are the bigger questions that need to be answered between now and the end of the year.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Yamamoto-san, will Honda continue to fund the Japanese grand prix at Suzuka, after it leaves Formula 1?
MY: This is a conversation that needs to be had between Mobilityland and Formula 1.
Q: Whilst on that topic of funding, how does the decision impact on Yuki Tsunoda’s chances of getting an F1 seat next year?
MY: Personally, I don’t think our leaving has any impact there. Red Bull don’t just let anyone drive their cars. I think they will be evaluating him strictly as a Junior driver and also it depends on his Formula 2 results as well. But we’d like to back him up where we can.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) As a follow-up question on Yuki Tsunoda, question for Franz: how much does this decision have any bearing on your consideration for him for a seat for next year and can you give any updates on what AlphaTauri is thinking about in terms of its driver line-up for 2021?
FT: Scuderia AlphaTauri currently has two fast drivers with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat. We will do the young driver test day with Yuki Tsunoda and this has nothing to do with the decision from Honda that they will not continue after ’21. The philosophy at Red Bull is always the performance and if Yuki performs well and he is doing a really good job in Formula 2 – he has won two races this year, at Spa and Silverstone if I remember rightly and in Austria as you remember hopefully, he was leading the race in the wet until a few laps to go and because of radio problems he couldn’t win this race. He is doing a really good job and this is decisive, the performance of the driver and this was always the philosophy and this will always stay like it is and then we will see what Red Bull decides regarding their drivers for 2021.
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