F1 is speeding out of a brief Christmas sojourn into a “critical” period for the future, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says.
One of the hottest topics of 2015 was the political struggle between F1 authorities led by Bernie Ecclestone and powerful marques like Mercedes and Ferrari.
And Horner says the off-track events of 2015 showed that F1 supremo Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt are right in pursuing a new path for F1 in terms of the engine regulations.
“Costs are obviously critically high,” he said, “and we have seen that (engine) availability is also a key issue.”
Horner said an independent engine supplier along the lines of Ecclestone’s solution would have been good for the sport, but the F1 Commission voted it down.
“As a compromise position the manufacturers agreed and were requested to report back to the Commission by January 15 a solution to the current issues,” he explained.
Horner said the new engines should be “cheaper, more affordable, more available” and be “something that could potentially entice other manufacturers to come into formula one”.
“I think the situation as we see it is that subject to what the manufacturers come back with by the 15th will depend whether or not the FIA feel the need to proceed with an independent engine to meet that criteria.
“So it’s going on at the moment obviously, the time between now and January 15 is going to be a critical and busy period,” said Horner.
The manufacturers are arguing that they need more time to ready the new engines for F1, despite the fact that radically-different chassis rules are coming in time for 2017.
But Ecclestone believes new cars and engines should both be ready for 2017.
“I absolutely agree” with that, said Horner. “We should bring it all in for 2017.”
He admits that 2016 will therefore be a year of transition for Red Bull, as the team has been forced to settle once again for Renault power, re-branded as ‘Tag Heuer’ in 2016.
Horner said Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz thought seriously about quitting F1 last year, but ultimately decided that he wanted the team to return to “its former glory”.
“We’ve got some challenges ahead to achieve that,” said Horner.
“I think in a power unit-dominated formula it’s a difficult situation if you’re not aligned to a competitive power unit at this point in time, so 2016 will be a transitional year for us.
“Hopefully as regulations come to fruit with the changes that Jean Todt and the promoter (Ecclestone) are pushing for, it can only be a positive thing for any independent team, not just Red Bull but all the other independent teams that are currently on the grid,” he added.