Red Bull Racing has formally confirmed it will continue to use Renault engines in the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season and badge them as TAG-Heuer.
After months of discussions with various parties, the four-time world championship winning team confirmed over the Abu Dhabi weekend that it had sourced an engine for next season, with the unit to be supplied by Renault once more.
Red Bull had originally sought to end its agreement with Renault due to performance and reliability issues, but was blocked from securing a deal with any of the other three manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda after demanding conditions in terms of development parity.
As a result, Red Bull has negotiated a new deal that will see it continue to use the Renault engine, but will run it under the TAG-Heuer RB12 moniker, while the development will be taken in house with assistance from Ilmor.
“TAG Heuer and Red Bull are two transcendent brands which have both a passion for racing and a drive to do things differently, and this unique collaboration is further evidence of that,”said team principal Christian Horner. “TAG Heuer has been an icon in the world of Formula One for many years and we're delighted that they've chosen to continue their association with the sport by teaming up with us.
“Our shared values of innovation and a desire to stand out from the crowd make this one of the most exciting partnerships in F1.
“We are also pleased to see Renault confirm its long-term commitment to F1 and would like to thank them for their contribution to the team since 2007. Their technical partnership with Ilmor gives us confidence, and we look forward to the 2016 season.”
The use of TAG Heuer is a departure for Red Bull and marks a return in such a capacity for the Swiss watch maker, which was used to brand Porsche engines in the 1980s. At the time it was a deal that yielded three world titles as part of McLaren, with whom it maintained an ongoing collaboration with until this year.
“Formula One is deeply-rooted in TAG Heuer's DNA, and Red Bull Racing is a young, dynamic and driven team, which perfectly fits with our marketing strategy,” said TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver. “It will give TAG Heuer great visibility and allow us to make our partnership exciting, different and innovative. Our motto #DontCrackUnderPressure will be the guiding principle behind all our actions with the support of the Red Bull Racing team and its highly contagious enthusiasm.”
The announcement comes after Renault formally confirmed it will upgrade its involvement from engine manufacturer to full constructor with the takeover of the Lotus team, saying the value of being a supplying partner with Red Bull didn't justify the cost of development.
Despite the frayed relationship between Red Bull and Renault in the latter months of its agreement, Infiniti – which is a manufacturer part of the Renault-Nissan alliance - looks set to carry on as the title sponsor.
The deal is set to be a prelude towards Red Bull pushing for the mooted independent customer engine being proposed for 2017. Failing that, new measures to ensure no team is left without an engine from a manufacturer means Red Bull could utilise the Renault power unit for just one season before getting the switch it originally sought.