After sweeping four consecutive F1 title doubles from 2010 to 2013, the V6 turbo-hybrid engines that arrived in 2014 reduced Red Bull to a bit-part player.
It has opted to part company with long-time engine supplier Renault and join forces with Honda, which rebuilt its reputation with Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso this year after its poor 2015-2017 spell with McLaren.
Brawn, who ran Honda’s works effort in 2008, enjoyed major success at Ferrari and helped lay the foundations for the current all-conquering Mercedes’ team, said Red Bull needed to take full advantage of escaping the limitations of being a Renault customer.
“Honda teaming up with Red Bull will be positive because Red Bull become a full works team,” says Brawn. “It’s always a different challenge when you are a works team with an engine manufacturer.
“You have to hold hands and you have got to jump in together, work together, and be as one and that is the strength of that opportunity.
“It’s something I have always focused on because it really does give you some great chances. Red Bull have now got to grasp that opportunity with Honda and get back into the really sharp end.
“They have to become a championship contender again.”
Honda has yet to score a podium since returning to F1 in 2015 but it did record the best result of its comeback thanks to Pierre Gasly’s fourth place in Bahrain this year.
Red Bull has also insisted that it would have still won grands prix in 2018 had it been powered by Honda and not Renault.
Should Honda produce an engine capable of allowing Red Bull to fight regularly for wins, Max Verstappen has been tipped to challenge for the drivers’ title.
Brawn said the 21-year-old Dutchman will thrive as team leader alongside Gasly.
“It’s easy to forget how young he is,” says Brawn. “If you think of yourself at that age, with the exposure and pressure, what he is doing is pretty special.
“What we are seeing with Max is a great maturing of his approach, losing none of his speed and aggression but just being a bit more tempered in terms of how he attacks things.
“In the right car and right team, he’s world champion material for sure. Max will be the known reference in the team in 2019.
“That is always helpful in a team to have that continuity, if you have a troublesome car or you have some things to sort out, knowing the driver, knowing how to qualify what he says is very helpful.
“So, I think it is great for the team.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images