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.
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