Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard says he sees no downside for his former team Red Bull following its decision to switch to Honda power from 2019. 

Red Bull will take on Honda engines next season after deciding to end its 12-year association with Renault, a collaboration which helped the team secure four consecutive drivers’ and teams’ world championship titles between 2010 and 2013. 

But following years of frustration throughout the V6 hybrid era and a lack of significant gains in performance from the French engine manufacturer, the Milton Keynes-based squad opted to cut its ties with Renault in favour of Honda power units once its current deal expires at the end of the season. 

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“I think given where they are in terms of the relationship with Renault, the uncertainty over what happens beyond 2020, I don’t see any downside for them,” Coulthard, who raced for Red Bull between 2005 and 2008, told Crash.net. 

“Renault have a great history in Formula 1 but whilst they try to build up their team to be a Renault-Renault world championship, are they really going to be happy to be winning in the back of a Red Bull? 

“Nobody knows what the future holds but if you use all the same ingredients all the time you get the same cake. If you want a different outcome you’ve got to change something in the process.”

Coulthard believes Red Bull is taking a calculated risk in its decision, considering it has valuable data at its disposal from Toro Rosso, with its sister team beginning a partnership with the Japanese engine manufacturer at the start of this season.

Honda has made solid progress in both performance and reliability with Toro Rosso following a disastrous three-year tenure supplying McLaren, with fourth and sixth place finishes scored by Pierre Gasly in Bahrain and Hungary acting as standout results so far this campaign.  

“I think it’s less of a risk now that they have the information from Toro Rosso because when you are looking at sound analysis of your competitors, there’s unknowns that give you that data,” Coulthard explained.

“With Toro Rosso they will know the top data, so they will know what power is travelling out to the wheels of the car and they’ll know what they’ve got from the Renault. 

“No-one will know how the Renault will develop, no-one will know how the Honda will develop but you look at the development plans, you look at the budgets that have been spend and you assume that if continue along the profile that they have in the past, it will get you to a certain point."

And the 13-time grand prix winner is hopeful of a successful partnership, warning that Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateshitz would be willing to pull the plug on the energy drinks company’s involvement in F1 if he was no longer satisfied. 

"They’ve made that decision, they’ve got all the data they can possibly have from the sister team and it represents ultimately a decision that has been supported by Dietrich [Mateshitz],” he added. 

“I hope it returns success for them because they are a major player in Formula 1. A lot of people benefit from Red Bull’s investment and I don’t think anyone should underestimate Mr Mateshitz’s ability to just switch everything off if he just doesn’t find it enjoyable anymore."

This interview was conducted prior to Daniel Ricciardo announcing his decision to leave Red Bull for Renault. 

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