Christian Horner eyes return to the top for Red Bull after engine switch

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner

Team principal Christian Horner hopes Red Bull's gamble to ditch Renault for Honda engines will fire them back to Formula One glory.

Red Bull confirmed ahead of this week's French Grand Prix that they are divorcing from Renault, a partnership which yielded eight drivers' and constructors' championships, at the end of the year.

Red Bull's relationship with the French manufacturer has turned sour in recent seasons, and the former world champions believe a move to Honda power for the next two years will provide them with their best chance of usurping Mercedes and Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo, a two-time winner for Red Bull this season, is out of contract at the end of the year, while Dutchman Max Verstappen, 20, is tied down to the team for at least another two seasons.

Horner said: "This multi-year agreement with Honda signals the start of an exciting new phase in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's efforts to compete not just for grand prix wins but for what is always our goal - championship titles.

"We have always taken decisions such as this dispassionately and with only one criteria in mind - do we believe the outcome will allow us to compete at a higher level.

"After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team."

McLaren blamed Honda for their miserable failings in recent years, and paid roughly £60million to severe ties with the Japanese manufacturer midway through their long-term deal.

But the British team's troubles have deepened this season, despite switching to Renault engines, while Honda's stock has risen since they teamed up with Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.

Horner added: "We have been impressed by Honda's commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own.

"We look forward to working with Honda in the coming years and to racing together in pursuit of F1's biggest prizes."

Sebastian Vettel won four consecutive championships as Red Bull proved the sport's dominant force between 2010 and 2013, but the Milton Keynes team has been off the pace of both Mercedes and Ferrari in the hybrid era.

Red Bull have closed the gap to the top two teams this year, however, and in Ricciardo and Verstappen boast arguably the best driver pairing on the grid.

Ricciardo, 28, is interested in a move to Mercedes or Ferrari, but it is probable that Valtteri Bottas will be retained alongside Lewis Hamilton by the former. Vettel meanwhile, is unlikely to want the Australian to challenge his number one status at Ferrari.

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