No is the blatant answer Mercedes boss Toto Wolff gave at this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix concerning supplying rivals Red Bull with power units from 2022.
Red Bull have been left scrambling to seal a deal with a new engine manufacturer in the wake of Honda’s withdraw plans.
Team Principal Christian Horner says the team will consider all available options to source a competitive engine. But today had the sport’s current powerhouse Mercedes rule out their prospects of adding Red Bull to their growing list of customer teams.
“No, for many reasons,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“But the most important one is that we have no capacity, We decided to get McLaren on board last year (for 2021) which is a relationship we’ve had since a long time, a great brand and good people, and we are absolutely on the max of our capacity.
“Even getting McLaren on board was already a stretch.”
Honda’s exit next season will leave F1 just three engine suppliers. With Mercedes already ruled off the list, only Renault and Ferrari remain as viable options for the team. The former had powered Red Bull to four consecutive driver’s championships between 2010-2014. Still, Red Bull unceremoniously dumped Renault due to a lack of competitiveness.
No new suppliers are on the F1 horizon; and the latest technical regulations set to be introduced in 2022, coupled by exorbitantly high development costs suggests the three current suppliers will be the crux of the sport for at least the next few seasons.
Nonetheless, Christian Horner says Red Bull must find a new engine for 2022 and will assess all options on the table.
“We have to look at all the options. We have a bit of time to consider all of the options,” Horner said.
“One thing’s for sure; we need a competitive engine. A team like Red Bull, the situation we’ve been in the past, we need to be in a competitive position, and we need a competitive power unit.
“But, of course, the cost is a key factor in that, regulations are a key factor in that, and we have to explore all the options in terms of the availability of supply, who would be prepared to supply and obviously under what conditions.
“It’s not a normal customer-supplying transaction, supplying a team like Red Bull.”
Realistically, Renault is Red Bull’s best deal for 2022.
Ferrari’s significant drop in straight-line speed has left the French marque the most enticing prospect from a competitive perspective.
Despite their bitter divorce at the end of 2018, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul confirmed his team would supply Red Bull engines. The current FIA regulations stipulates that the manufacturer with the lowest number of customers must take on any team unable to source an engine.
But Abiteboul does believe Renault may have some different options up their sleeve come to their May deadline.
“What I can say is that on principle we have to be prepared to comply with obligations,” said Abiteboul. “We are in the sport, we know what the sporting regulations are saying, we could be called upon having to do so.
“But we also know that it says it will not be for a while, it will not be before mid-May of 2021 that it would be the case, and by then I’m sure that we may have a very different perspective of things.
“I’m expecting from Red Bull that they will have different options. I don’t know what they are, frankly. I’m very focused on what I need to do for our team and that’s really a job that is big enough, so I leave Christian and Helmut to deal with their own strategy.”