Engine spending war could cost F1 a manufacturer

Pointing to the progress Honda has made this season, and the investment needed to make that progress, Renault‘s Cyril Abiteboul warns that the spending war could well result in one of the manufacturers leaving the sport.

After three largely disastrous years with McLaren, 2018 saw Honda partner with Toro Rosso, and next year the Japanese manufacturer will also supply Red Bull.

While the Woking outfit handled its difficult ‘marriage’ to Honda with a certain amount of dignity, attempting to keep much of the bickering and rows behind closed doors, Red Bull will be another matter entirely, for if it is unhappy, the Austrian outfit – and its star driver – will be more than happy to do the dirty washing in public.

As a result, in its efforts to raise its game this season, and again in 2019, Honda has significantly increased it spending, a move which gives Renault cause for serious concern.

“It is not a surprise because it was very clear last year already that Honda were making very rapid progress,” says Abiteboul, according to Motorsport.com.

“Reliability was not there last year,” he continued, “but it was extremely clear, and I remember in Spa, there was a very clear signal that Honda was on the move given the huge investment which we understand that Honda is putting in.

“It is not a surprise that this is paying off because we are still in an F1 that is rewarding how much you are spending rather than how you are spending it. And that is a concern.

“That is in my opinion untenable,” he warned. “It may be paying dividends for Honda now, but at some point it will be untenable for one of the four – and who knows what will happen then.

“I think F1 cannot afford to lose one of them,” he continued. “And I don’t see enough decision/action being taken to alleviate that necessity to spend in a way that might be untenable in the medium to long term.”

Admitting that in light of Honda’s step, which will in turn lead to Renault needing to make a similar step, which will need an increase in spending, he said: “They are definitely back. They are at a similar level to us in terms of competitiveness this year because of our decision on Spec-C. That is why again we cannot sleep on next year’s engine development.

“And we also need to put that in perspective of 2021, where we want to start as early as possible. As always we need to see how we can balance short term objective with long term objectives.”