Mercedes backs 'sensible' Red Bull engine freeze idea, Ferrari have other priorities

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has offered his support to Red Bull's push for an engine development freeze from 2022.

After the decision by Honda to withdraw from Formula 1 at the end of next year, it has left both teams owned by the Austrian energy drinks giant facing an important decision on where they go next.

Both Renault and Ferrari haven't ruled out supplying engines, however, Red Bull is keen to go down a different path. 

“Obviously we’ve got a little bit of time,” team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports last weekend. “We’ve got just under 18 months to get ourselves sorted.

“But the more we look, there really is only one option that works, and that would be to agree something with Honda where we could take on the [intellectual property] for the Honda engine.

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"Of course that would have to be dependent on the regulations," he noted.

"It would only make sense for an independent engine supplier, as Red Bull would effectively be, if there was a freeze because it would just be impossible to fund the kind of development spend that goes on with these engines.”

Soon after the idea was first suggested at the Nurburgring, Mercedes voiced their support, and now Toto Wolff has elaborated on his point of view.

“I think Formula 1 is in a good state with three engine suppliers, but if you can keep four [it is better]," he was quoted by The Race.

“I think for them [Red Bull] going back to customer status is not something that they are very keen on.

“I truly believe that Honda has done a very good job and I think there is performance in the pipeline that gives Red Bull confidence.

“Equally I understand they don’t want to go into a spending war with all the other OEMs on developing engines.

Horner Wolff

“It’s a sensible proposal, I’d like to support it," the Austrian confirmed.

"I think Red Bull is a tremendously important brand to Formula 1 and we should do everything to keep the two teams in Formula 1 and help them with the option of having basically works status.”

Of course, as the current benchmark for engine performance, a freeze would probably help Mercedes as it would limit the opportunities for the other suppliers to catch up.

Perhaps then it's no surprise the team at the other end of the scale aren't so keen on the idea.

“It is true that the engine [freeze] matter is one of the points of a big meeting, but I’m not sure we’ll discuss it really at length,” Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto told RaceFans.

“I think before starting discussing the freezing, more important is to start discussing 2026.

“What’s the new technical format for the new power unit in the future? Where costs will be addressed? And where technology needs to be addressed?

“So I see that as a first priority, and so freezing is only a second priority to the discussion.”

It's understood Red Bull could also put forward a Balance of Performance type concept which would allow any supplier who is behind not to be permanently disadvantaged under a development freeze.