Christian Horner has revealed that talks with two manufacturers are taking place as Red Bull continues to work on its engine supplier crisis. Amid the Renault divorce, the energy drink company says it will have to quit formula one if it cannot secure a competitive alternative engine for 2016.
Mercedes, however, has ruled out working with Red Bull, Ferrari is believed to be offering only a 'B' engine, and Honda has played down reports linking it strongly with Red Bull's secondary team, Toro Rosso. Nonetheless, Red Bull Racing team boss Horner told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV: "There are talks with two manufacturers."
Fascinatingly, although Mercedes' motor racing chief has categorically ruled out a deal for Red Bull, Briton Horner hinted that the German carmaker could still be an option. "The decision does not lie with Toto Wolff," he said. "It is at a higher level. There are many conversations going on behind the scenes, and obviously the promoter of formula one, Bernie Ecclestone, is worried about what's going to happen with us."
Horner admitted the situation is now urgent. "This is an important topic that hopefully we can get resolved in the next few weeks. It's critical. It's getting late -- very late," he said. "We are now at the beginning of October, and the designers at Milton Keynes want to know what to do with the RB12. When do we want to have the solution? Two weeks ago!"
"Adrian Newey said to me 'Christian, we need an answer. I know what to do with the front and the rear of the car, but we also need to know what to do with the middle'. Because it's not just about the engine," Horner explained, "it's about the cooling, which affects the shape of the sidepods. It's also about the transmission, which affects the shape of the rear end."
"Ultimately, the decision about what will happen is with Dietrich Mateschitz. My job - as soon as we know what engine we've got - is to put it all into effect immediately. But right now, as I sit here, we do not have a solution," he admitted.
"Yes, that is some sort of advantage for the other teams, but the quality of our work at Red Bull Racing is so high that we can cope with the delay. Everyone is highly motivated and we want to win again. But we do not want to continue as we have in the last year and a half," Horner insisted. If an acceptable solution is not found, however, and Mateschitz does pull the plug, Red Bull will be left with hundreds of employees with no work to do.
Horner insisted: "If we are not going to the grands prix any more, then we will look at other activities. We have many extremely talented people working at Milton Keynes, and we would have to look at how best to use that talent. For sure the staff are concerned," he admitted, "but I tell them 'Concentrate on your work and don't worry about what you can't influence'." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing