Christian Horner confirms Red Bull did hold talks with VW Group
Former champions seeking alternative to Renault power; Mercedes have rejected approach, while Ferrari have offered year-old engines; Horner refuses to deny Honda now an option for 2016
By William Esler
Last Updated: 27/10/15 5:27pm
Christian Horner has confirmed Red Bull did hold talks with the Volkswagen Group about joining F1 as the team's engine supplier.
Speculation is mounting the former champions are set to turn to Honda for 2016 after their tempestuous relationship with Renault reached boiling point earlier this season.
The partnership between Red Bull and Renault has been strained since the introduction of V6 hybrid power units at the start of 2014, with the Milton Keynes squad unhappy at the performance level delivered by the French manufacturer.
Red Bull served notice of their intention to terminate their supply deal a year early and it appears the long-term plan did involve gaining a supply from the VW Group which, alongside Volkswagen, includes the Porsche and Audi brands.
However, the emissions scandal involving Volkswagen appears to have ruled out a venture for the company into F1 in the near future.
"It's publicly known that there has been discussion with the VW Group. With their current issues, Formula 1 is probably the last thing on their mind," said Horner.
"There were other discussions that will become apparent no doubt in the future and other promises that were made.
"There's an awful lot of speculation and conjecture about our situation at the moment, once everything is finalised I'm sure it will become extremely clear."
Red Bull have been rejected by Mercedes and only offered year-old Ferrari units for 2016, and Horner refused to deny speculation the four-time world champions could now look to Honda.
"So far, we've had the rumour of every single engine mentioned in the back of our car for next year, so they probably have a 25 per cent chance if you look at it that way," Horner told Sky Sports F1, when quizzed about speculation which emerged at the US GP on Friday suggesting that Honda, who currently supply McLaren on an exclusive basis, could also power Red Bull in 2016.
Pressed further, Horner did not dismiss the possibility of switching to the Japanese firm: "There is so much speculation, a lot of opinion is being based on it, so when we have something to say and something is fixed... it is being worked on very hard at the moment."
Red Bull had set a deadline of the end of October to secure a 2016 engine supply, but Horner doubts a deal will be finalised by the Mexican GP on November 1. He does, though, admit that time is running out.
"In the near future. We need to, it'll be November next week, then suddenly it is Christmas and then testing starts," the Red Bull boss said when asked about a time span for an announcement.
"We need to get something sorted over the next couple of weeks. It would be nice to have everything firmed up by the time we leave Mexico, but the likelihood of having it by then is unlikely.
"There is an awful lot going on in the background, but once we have something to say, I'm sure Sky will have that exclusive."
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Horner is adamant the team will be on the grid in 2016 and even suggested using year-old Ferrari engines could now be an option for the team.
"It might well be the case. At the moment everything is open," he said, despite team owner Dietrich Mateschitz insisting they must have a 'competitive' engine.
One option that does currently appear to be off the table, though, is Horner leading a management buy-out and running the squad alongside his successful junior formula Arden team.
"My objective is to keep the current status quo running for the foreseeable future, but the ultimate decision lies with Dietrich," he said.
"Discussions of other shareholding, or change of shareholding are not applicable at the moment. The focus is purely on finding a solution to our engine predicament."
A revised 2016 calendar has seen the season's start moved forward by two weeks, but Horner is still convinced Red Bull can make the first test.
"This week absolutely," he said. "We have a great group of people and they are very adaptive and so they are doing what they can with the information they currently have. At the moment, they are coping extremely well with that."
Horner also confirmed that Red Bull would not use Renault's upgraded power unit at either the US or Mexican GPs.
"Renault confirmed earlier today that the conditions for it to run aren't quite right yet, so that's been postponed to Brazil," he added.
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