Red Bull 'need own engine to be F1 force again', says ex-Cosworth chief
Engine debate reignited on F1 Report: Canada Preview show
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/06/17 10:31am
Red Bull's Formula 1 hopes are being "hamstrung" by their lack of a works engine deal, according to this week's F1 Report.
The former world champions are powered by Renault but the French manufacturer relaunched their own works team last year after buying Lotus.
Speaking after the Bahrain GP in April, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko reiterated calls for a cheaper independent engine to be introduced and warned "our stay in F1 is not secured" if F1's powerbrokers failed to swiftly agree a pathway forward for beyond 2020.
Mark Gallagher, a former head of engine makers Cosworth who also worked for Red Bull in the early days of their F1 team in 2005, believes a Renault deal is not the long-term answer for the former world champions.
"Red Bull Racing is hamstrung by the fact it doesn't have a works engine," said Gallagher on Sky F1's F1 Report: Canada preview show.
"Even though it has a very good and strong engine supply from Renault, Renault has its own Formula 1 team and you have to believe that ultimately that's their focus.
"Red Bull Racing should not play second fiddle to anyone on engine supply and I passionately believe they deserve to have their own unique supply of engines. Not just a customer engine, but an engine that is specific and bespoke to them because the reality is that that is such an important component in contemporary F1 and you can't just have a plug and play engine like some Duracell battery.
"You need something that is integral to the entire decision and is part of a concept."
Provided an F1 engine was more affordable to produce, Gallagher believes his former employers would be one such company capable of supplying a competitive alternative to F1's four current power unit manufacturers.
"I'm a huge fan of what Dr Marko is saying, that they need an independent supplier in Formula 1," he added. "But they need an independent supplier who can then develop bespoke solutions for a team like Red Bull. The capability is there with companies like Cosworth to do that."
New F1 sporting chief Ross Brawn told Sky F1 at the start of the season his dream was to create an "affordable engine that still appeals to manufacturers but is a business model that can be an Ilmor, a Cosworth or an independent supplier".
Sky F1's Marc Priestley, speaking on Wednesday's show, reckons there would be several hurdles to address.
"You can get an independent supplier, which is great for the smaller teams and maybe keeps the cost of engines down, but how are you going to get an independent supplier that can take on competitively the might of Mercedes and Ferrari without costs going through the roof?" he said.
"That's the real challenge."
Meanwhile, McLaren's engine struggles in F1's hybrid era have been even more pronounced than Red Bull's, with the return of Honda hitherto falling a long way short of propelling the Woking team back into front-running contention.
"I look at the struggles of McLaren and I look at the struggles of Red Bull and I think why are you struggling when actually there are providers available who for a budget that you wouldn't even bat an eyelid at regarding aerodynamic development you could actually begin the process of putting together your own engine programme," argued Gallagher.
"I think there's a mindset around it [why they don't]. First of all, let's be clear: McLaren want Honda's money as much as they want Honda's engine. Obviously an independent supplier will not be supplying bundles of cash.
"But you have to say to yourself 'at what point does the trade-off of not scoring World Championship points and ending up with much less prize money counter the fact that you're being paid money by the car manufacturer?'"
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