Renault has warned Red Bull that it risks throwing away the chance to win the Formula 1 world championship in the next two years if it switches to Honda engines for 2019.
Red Bull is currently weighing up its options for next season, with a decision about whether to sign a fresh two-year deal with Renault or team up with Honda set to be made before the Austrian Grand Prix on July 1.
Although Honda has made good progress over the winter, an upgrade that Renault has brought for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix helped Max Verstappen top both practice sessions on Friday.
Speaking about the engine situation, Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul suggested that Red Bull needed to think carefully about what it would do – because the French car manufacturer was adamant it could help its customer team deliver another title.
“I understand what they are looking to get,” Abiteboul told Sky. “They are looking to the technical and commercial side, because it is clearly different remaining a customer and partner of Renault versus becoming a works team with Honda.
“It is very different and I appreciate that. But frankly, as far as I am concerned, they have a chance with us to become world champion again. I cannot say for Honda.
With what they have now, what is coming in the pipeline, and their car which is clearly a great car, maybe the greatest out there, they have the chance to be world champion again within the next two years.”
Although Abiteboul has faced some tough times with Red Bull over the turbo hybrid era – which included them being on the verge of an acrimonious split – he has suggested that he thinks it now best if Red Bull stayed on board.
“It is a complex decision for them and for us,” he said. “But maybe it is my emotional side. I have been working 12 years of pulling my hairs with Christian [Horner] and Helmut [Marko], and I don’t want to lose any of that.
“But frankly, in the construction of the Renault team, I think it is still interesting to get their [Red Bull’s] benchmarking capacity.
“We know where we need to work based on what they are doing. They have showed that a Renault engine can win races in straight conditions, so that is a good sign of what we are doing, where we are progressing and where we need to progress.”