Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Honda is “very keen” to provide the Milton Keynes-based outfit with power units in 2016, but confirms McLaren is blocking the move.
Having fallen out with current engine partner Renault, Red Bull has yet to find a replacement for next year after being rejected by both Mercedes and Ferrari. F1i understands the four-time world champions approached Honda in the weeks surrounding the Russian Grand Prix.
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The Japanese manufacturer admits to being open to such a deal, but supplied team McLaren has exercised a veto according to F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
“I think the situation is, Honda are very keen but unfortunately they have a contractual status that is between them and McLaren and has nothing to do with us,” said Horner. “It’s for them to decide amongst themselves what they want to do.”
“I haven’t spoken to anyone at McLaren other than Ron Dennis, who is the one guy who has the right of say there. His views were quite clear.”
More than one month has passed since Horner said that Red Bull’s and Toro Rosso’s engine situation was “critical” and time running out. Company owner Dietrich Mateschitz even set an end-of-October deadline to secure a competitive power unit deal, otherwise he would pull the plug on both his teams.
With negotiations still dragging on, Horner was asked whether his squad could miss some pre-season testing as a result, to which he replied:
“At the moment we’re right on the limit to be at the first test. The team at Milton Keynes have demonstrated their abilities to work to massively tight deadlines and I’m sure we’d be able to meet whatever targets we need to, as we come to a decision in the next couple of weeks.”
Should a potential agreement with Honda fall through, Red Bull could try to patch things up with Renault, though the French manufacturer appears quite reluctant after being openly lambasted by their client.
Meanwhile, it is reported that junior squad Toro Rosso is inching closer to a return to the Ferrari fold in 2016.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has won the Mexican Grand Prix, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton in second place and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas in third.
Rosberg controlled the race, despite a late safety car appearance after Sebastian Vettel crashed out, to claim his first victory since June’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The German, who moves clear of Vettel in second place in the championship, finished 1.9 seconds clear of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas taking the final spot on the podium.
With emotions still running high in Mexico after Hamilton and Rosberg banged wheels in Austin, all eyes were on the Mercedes pair on the long run down to turn one.
Rosberg, who prior to Sunday’s race at the newly-revamped Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez had converted only two of his last 10 poles into victories, enjoyed a strong getaway.
Rosberg immediately took the inside line on the 900 metres stretch down to the opening corner. Hamilton was tucked up underneath his team-mate, but Rosberg held his position and retained the lead.
Sebastian Vettel, who started from third, had joked that he wanted Rosberg and Hamilton to collide at the first corner so he could swoop through and take the lead.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2015
But it was Vettel, the four-times world champion, who was involved in a collision at turn one. Vettel had already lost third place to the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat and in his bid to hold off Daniel Ricciardo in the sister Red Bull, the pair touched.
Vettel sustained a rear-right puncture and had to limp back to the pits. “Seb deserved that,” concluded Ricciardo. “He gave me no room.” The stewards took no further action, but Vettel’s race was already scuppered.
Three world champions, in Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, occupied the final three slots on the grid due to the sport’s complicated engine rules. And only two of them survived the opening lap after Alonso was forced to park his McLaren with a sick Honda engine.
The Spaniard has now retired from eight races this season, as many as during his debut Formula One campaign with minnows Minardi 14 years ago.
And by lap 23, Button was the last of the championship trio standing after Raikkonen was punted out of the race by Bottas.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2015
Raikkonen denied Bottas a podium finish in Russia after he collided with the Williams driver on the final lap and there was a sense of payback in Bottas’ lunge at turn four. The stewards, who investigated but took no further action over the incident, did not appear to agree.
Over 100,000 fans made the pilgrimage to the circuit for Mexico’s first Formula One race since 1992.
And the crowd created a spine-tingling atmosphere all weekend, none more so than when home favourite Sergio Perez was presented to the crowd ahead of the race. Perez pumped his chest as the fans chanted his name and sounded airhorns.
During the race, the former McLaren driver passed Carlos Sainz and then Max Verstappen at the unique stadium section which holds over 40,000 fans, to have them on their feet.
Back up front and with Rosberg and Hamilton holding a clear lead over their rivals, Mercedes opted to pit their drivers for a second time. In came Rosberg on lap 46, but Hamilton did not want to play ball.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2015
“My tyres are still good”, said the world champion. “Box this lap, that is an instruction,” came the response. He did on lap 48 and Rosberg regained the lead of the race.
Vettel, who had endured a sloppy race by his high standards, then crashed out on lap 52 to compound his miserable afternoon after he went straight on and into the tyre barriers. Out came the safety car to clear Vettel’s Ferrari before it pitted at the end of lap 57.
But unlike seven days ago, Rosberg retained his composure to hold off the challenge from Hamilton to claim his fourth win of the season.
Bottas passed Kvyat for third with Ricciardo fifth. Felipe Massa crossed the line in seventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Perez. Verstappen finished ninth with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean claiming the final point.
Button finished a lowly 14th ahead of only the Manor drivers of Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens in yet another weekend to forget for the 2009 world champion.
Nico Rosberg maintained his supremacy in practice for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday when he topped the times in the final free session ahead of qualifying for Sunday's race.
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The 30-year-old German, who is determined to beat his Mercedes team-mate, newly-crowned three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton after their wheel-banging duel in Texas last weekend, was fastest ahead of the Briton by just 0.014 seconds.
That small margin was handed to Rosberg by two rare Hamilton errors when he locked up and ran off at Turn One and then again in the stadium section at the slippery Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after switching to soft tyres in the final minutes.
Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest, just a tenth of a second off the pace, in his Red Bull, ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull.
Local hero Sergio Perez was an impressive sixth for Force India ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Williams, Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso, Felipe Massa in the second Williams and Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India.
Perez's part in the action was given huge support by the noisy crowd and he acknowledged that with a wave during his in-lap.
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, wound up down in 17th place after suffering an engine failure in the second Ferrari while Jenson Button, champion in 2009, finished 20th as he struggled again in his McLaren Honda.