WEC the alternative? 2021 regulations vital for Red Bull’s F1 future

In the latest round of political jousting over the planned regulations overhaul for 2021, Red Bull Racing have claimed that a switch to the World Endurance Championship could be an option if they are unsatisfied with the road-map for F1.

Liberty Media’s first chance to dictate their vision for Formula One is when the current Concorde Agreement expires at the end of 2020. Their ideas include revamped engine regulations that are aimed at attracting new power unit suppliers.

However, with Formula One looking unlikely to attract new suppliers for 2021, the current power unit manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – are all keen to keep the power unit regulations as close to the current specification as possible.

At a time when Liberty Media are looking to reduce Formula One costs, collectively, the power unit suppliers believe it would in fact be more expensive to change the regulations.

Red Bull, who are yet to make a championship challenge in the V6-hybrid era, will switch to Honda power for 2019, with a deal running until 2020. The deal means that both parties will assess their performance and monitor regulation discussions before confirming their plans for 2021.

Red Bull’s motorsport adviser Helmut Marko said that the team would be unwilling to become a customer team again.

“We have an agreement until 2020,” Marko told Motorsport.com. “As long as there is no engine regulation and no Concorde Agreement, neither Red Bull nor Honda will make a decision.

“However, we will certainly not become dependent again, as we have been in the past, when we were begging others and statements and promises were not kept.”

When asked what Red Bull’s alternatives would be if they become unsatisfied with their Formula One future, he responded:

“Stop is the option. Or do something else, other racing series.

“With the Valkyrie, Le Mans could be an option with hypercar rules. We went through with it, and it’s a sensational success.

“The cars were all sold out immediately. That’s another good pillar for Red Bull Technologies.”

Red Bull would be eyeing up the proposed hypercar concept class in the World Endurance Championship, which would commence in 2020.

A collaboration with Aston Martin has led to the development of the Valkyrie, a hypercar project which has had involvement from Adrian Newey.

Marko also added that a WEC venture could be useful if a limitation on costs was implemented in Formula One.

“If there was a cost cap in Formula 1, we would have to cut people,” he said. “We don’t necessarily want that.

“We could then use them in such projects [as Le Mans]. It still looks like you can run in the WEC at a reasonable cost with the base of our Valkyrie.

“Although Red Bull has never been to the 24 Hours, that’s something we’re thinking about.

“The main financial burden would be on Aston Martin, which is also clear, because at Le Mans the manufacturer wins. But that would fit into our concept.”

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images