Red Bull seal deal to run TAG Heuer-branded Renault engines in 2016
McLaren's long-time sponsor secure naming rights for Renault engine on Red Bull car; Christian Horner confirms Ilmor will work with Renault; 2016 car to be called Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/12/15 9:21am
Red Bull have finally resolved their F1 future by confirming a deal to run TAG Heuer-branded engines in 2016 after realigning their relationship with Renault.
After one of the biggest U-turns in recent F1 history, Red Bull will continue to be supplied by Renault next season but the V6 power unit will not carry the French manufacturer's name.
Instead, long-time McLaren sponsor TAG Heuer has bought the naming rights to the engine, with next season's car to be christened the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12.
It emerged last month that the Swiss watchmaker was switching its F1 sponsorship allegiances from McLaren to Red Bull in 2016 after a 30-year association. McLaren ran TAG Group-badged Porsche engines in 1983-87, although luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer is now majority owned by a separate company.
Speaking at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, team boss Christian Horner remarked "I don't think Ron Dennis will be too happy" in reference to Red Bull's engine deal.
"TAG Heuer and Red Bull are two transcendent brands which have both a passion for racing and a drive to do things differently, and this unique collaboration is further evidence of that," said Horner in a statement on Friday.
"TAG Heuer has been an icon in the world of Formula 1 for many years and we're delighted that they've chosen to continue their association with the sport by teaming up with us. Our shared values of innovation and a desire to stand out from the crowd make this one of the most exciting partnerships in F1.
"We are also pleased to see Renault confirm its long-term commitment to F1 and would like to thank them for their contribution to the team since 2007. Their technical partnership with Ilmor gives us confidence, and we look forward to the 2016 season."
The long-awaited confirmation of Red Bull's engine deal comes 12 hours after Renault announced their own decision to stay in F1 after agreeing a takeover of the Lotus team.
The continuation of Red Bull's relationship with Renault, albeit on heavily revised terms, had been anticipated for several weeks, with suggestions that Horner's squad would pursue a different development path to that of the works Renault team in 2016 with the help of Mario Illien of Ilmor Engineering at their Milton Keynes base.
Horner's reference to Ilmor working in a "technical partnership" with Renault would appear to point to Illien taking on a more official capacity at the French manufacturer's Viry-Chatillon engine base. Renault have said that more information on their 2016 plans will be released in January.
The Red Bull team principal confirmed to Sky F1 in Abu Dhabi that their engine deal was for one year only.
Underling how the relationship between Red Bull and Renault will change, Infinity's title sponsorship of the team will end a year early.
'Red Bull and Renault have reached a mutual and amicable agreement that will see the French car manufacturer continue to supply the team with engines for the 2016 Formula One season, and this new agreement does not cover any marketing activity for the Renault-Nissan Alliance,' the former champions said in a statement.
After a public war of words during the past two seasons over power unit performance, Red Bull moved to terminate the partnership that won four consecutive championships during the V8-era a year early.
However, the team were unable to find a replacement supplier, with Mercedes rejecting their approach, McLaren reportedly blocking Honda from powering Red Bull and Ferrari only offering year-old units.
It is understood those 2015 specification Scuderia units will be run by Red Bull's sister squad Toro Rosso next year, although no deal has yet been announced.
Having made several threats to quit F1 if his main team could not access a 'competitive' engine, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz remained publicly adamant as recently as November that his team's deal with Renault had been cancelled, but the refusal of other manufacturers to bail them out prompted the reconciliation talks with the French car firm.
With their place on the grid having been in jeopardy for so long, Red Bull have yet to officially confirm their driver line-up for 2016 - although Horner has indicated on several occasions Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat will remain in place.