Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin: The Wider Implications

It’s official: Aston Martin is back in F1.

Red Bull Racing’s new title sponsor deal with Aston Martin from 2018 onwards was an exciting bit of news that had been anticipated for some time. With the team helping develop the manufacturers Valkyrie hypercar, the annoucement signified a new and closer relationship with the car company that will hark back to the teams Infiniti title sponsor days.

But this deal is not just about a mere lump of cash. The implications of the partnership for Formula 1 could go beyond a sponsorship and into a topic that has been rather hot ever since Singapore – engines.

It’s no secret that Renault are looking to end their contract with Red Bull after 2018, and that Porsche are interested in returning to the sport as at least an engine supplier. Red Bull is very much who they are targeting, and there is still the potential that Porsche may buy out the team to form a factory squad for the German company.

If neither of those things happen, the Honda deal that Toro Rosso now have could lead to both Red Bull owned teams running their power units, the main team becoming the defacto factory Honda outfit as McLaren have been these last three years. But what if neither the Honda or Porsche situations actually happen? What about that Aston Martin sponsorship? Well it could be the Red Bull cars are powered by Aston engines… sort of.

Cosworth appear to be developing an engine for the supposedly simpler power unit regulations for 2021. The rumours circulating right now are that the plan the British company has is to supply both Red Bull and McLaren with engines for 2021 – the former team branding them Aston Martin and the latter branding them McLaren. This though will only happen if the engine regulations for 2021 do indeed become simpler.

The sticking point right now is that the manufacturers are not totally keen on getting rid of the ERS-h section of the engine. This is the part of the power unit that collects the hot gasses from the turbine of the turbocharger, and is used as electrical energy to spin the turbo’s compressor.

This results in immediate power with none of the turbo lag that was found on the cars of the 1980’s. This complex piece of kit has cost manufacturers a lot of investment, so perhaps it is understandable that they do not want to get rid of this technology. However, it is technology like this that is bleeding teams dry of funds when it comes to engine deals – leading some to believe that it’s better if the tech is done away with.

Whether this deal does go further than mere sponsorship remains to be seen. An independent Formula 1 engine has been mooted before a couple of years ago, though for various reasons it never came to fruition, despite interest being shown by Red Bull themselves. But maybe, just maybe, Aston Martin and Red Bull have laid foundations for some remarkable events that could well shape the future of Formula 1. Only time will tell, but our hunch tells us that big things are in store for the sport.