Toto Wolff says Formula 1 “should be doing everything” to help Red Bull continue to use Honda power units beyond the end of 2021, and says Mercedes would support a possible engine freeze for the 2022 season.

Red Bull is currently evaluating how best to react to Honda’s shock decision to quit F1 from the end of next season, with its preferred option to take on the Japanese manufacturer’s abandoned engine project.

But with concerns over a lack of technical and financial resources to takeover and develop Honda’s power unit project, Red Bull is pushing for a freeze on engine development from 2022 to enable it to maintain a works status.

Mercedes boss Wolff said Mercedes would be in favour of an engine freeze if it ensured that it kept Red Bull and its sister team AlphaTauri on the F1 grid, adding he can understand where Red Bull is coming from.

"I think Formula 1 is in a good state with three engine suppliers," Wolff said.

"I totally understand where Red Bull is coming from. They don't want to go back to a customer status.

"They want to be a works team and they have the capability of tweaking it and maybe optimising it, and maybe there are a few things in the pipeline from Honda that are giving them confidence that there is more performance in the engine.

"But I think we should be doing everything to give Red Bull that opportunity.

“I think that for them going back to customers, that status is not something that they are very keen on,” Wolff added.

“I truly believe that Honda has done a very good job and I think there is performance in the pipeline that gives Red Bull confidence.

“But equally I understand that they don’t want to go into a spending war with all the other OEMs developing an engine, so it’s a sensible proposal I’d like to support it.

“I think Red Bull is a tremendously important brand for Formula 1 and we should do and we should do everything to keep the two teams in Formula 1 and help them with the option of having basically works status.”

Asked if he was concerned Red Bull is simply trying to force F1 to get its preferred outcome, Wolff replied: “Yeah they could be.

“I think in Formula 1 everybody’s trying to get the best financial deal and performance deal and this is their current position.

“I can live with either outcome. I can live with them taking a customer engine, or help to fund the Honda development programme, or do it on their own. I’m easy with either decision.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stressed that the team's 'Plan-A' is its only real option for 2022. 

“Obviously we’ve got a little bit of time,” he said. “We’ve got just under 18 months to get ourselves sorted.

“But the more we look, there really only is one option that works and that would be to agree something with Honda where we could take on the [intellectual property] for the Honda engine.

“But of course that would have to be dependent on the regulations. It would only make sense for an independent engine supplier, as Red Bull would effectively be, if there was a freeze because it would just be impossible to fund the kind of development spend that goes on with these engines.”

 

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