A few weeks ago, Red Bull Racing and Honda confirmed that they are currently undergoing talks for a possible engine supply deal for 2019 and beyond. The deadline for submitting engine suppliers was on May 15 but it looks like the FIA is giving a little more leeway for Honda and Red Bull Racing.
For now, Red Bull Racing is tight-lipped regarding the matter. However, team principal Christian Horner told reporters that he will be watching the performances of the Honda-powered cars at the Canadian Grand Prix. Prior to this development, Helmut Marko met with Honda motorsport chief Masahi Yamamoto in Baku with the latter saying the first talk was 'positive', stating that “It’s the starting point for a potential future”.
On the flipside, Honda is more vocal, stating their interest in supplying more teams with their engines. Honda already powers RBR's junior team, Toro Rosso and, compared to their McLaren years, it looks like the Honda has overcome most of the crippling teething problems. Honda Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe said that a lot of improvements were made to the power units, the main source of agony for McLaren from 2014 to 2017. Tanabe was also cautiously optimistic by saying, “We think we have cured the problem now, but we still haven’t run enough races”.
For the most part then, Honda says they have improved on the reliability aspect of the new powertrain. With that, Honda says the next step is to incrementally improve performance to catch up with Renault and, eventually, Mercedes-AMG. According to Formula 1, the Japanese manufacturer is set to introduce an update in Canada, which sees an increase of 20 HP to the current package. Honda is also doing more tests as not only do they have to catch the eye of Horner, but other teams as well if they plan to reach their goal of being a multi-team engine supplier in the next couple of years.
The Canadian Grand Prix will be held three weeks from now. From the results of that race, it is possible that Red Bull Racing might make a final decision as to who will be supplying engines for their team in the future. Given the deadline extension, Red Bull Racing must make a decision as soon as possible.