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Formula One: Red Bull to leave Renault for Honda

Sebastian Vettel, seen during 2014 qualifying in Abu Dhabi, won four straight titles for Red Bull before switching to Ferrari © AFP/File / PATRICK BAZ

PARIS, France, Jun 19 – The Red Bull Formula One team announced Tuesday it is splitting with Renault and will use Honda engines from next season after agreeing an initial two-year deal.

Red Bull “has reached an agreement with Honda Motor Co Ltd to race with the Japanese manufacturer’s power units for the 2019 and 2020 Formula 1 seasons,” it said in a statement.

Red Bull team principal Christian 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.

“After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team. We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own.”

Honda president Takahiro Hachigo welcomed a “deal that is fair and equitable for all parties” which he said would boost their chances of winning titles.

Vettel dominated the 2013 season to win a record-equalling fourth straight drivers title, taking the last nine races to leave his rivals standing © AFP / THYS/MORIN/LOPEZ/ASFOURI/KITAMUR

“Having two teams means we can access twice as much data as previously. We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and Championships, building two strong partnerships.”

For Renault Sport F1, the move “is a natural evolution for Renault and Red Bull Racing,” with Honda already equipping the Toro Rosso team, likewise owned by Red Bull, an Austrian beverage company.

– Proud –

The French constructor stressed the 12-season partnership had been a successful one, bringing 57 victories and eight world titles — drivers and constructors included.

“In an extremely demanding and competitive environment we are proud of the extraordinary results achieved with Red Bull Racing over the past 12 seasons, in particular, the four Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships and 57 wins we have taken together,” Renault said.

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The French firm said it would focus on the “strong progression of Renault Sport Formula One Team, while continuing to foster the fresh relationship with McLaren Racing.”

German driver Sebastian Vettel scored a quadruple run of championship successes between 2010 and 2013 before reliability issues hit the following year.

The deal will run for two years which would leave the door open to a tie-up with the likes of Aston Martin from 2021 when new F1 technical rules come into effect.

After the Vettel years of plenty, relations between Renault and Red Bull deteriorated as wins became rarer although Horner Renault, Christian Horner added said their partnership had comprised “a period during which we experienced some incredible moments together” albeit “we sometimes had our differences.”

Managing director Cyril Abiteboul had been waiting for Red Bull to declare whether their tie-up, contracted through to year-end, would be continuing or not.

Renault will continue to power its works team as well as McLaren, with whom it began a partnership this year after the latter came off three poor seasons with Honda engines.

Renault Sport F1 is based in the Parisian suburb of Viry-Chatillon and at Enstone, near Oxford in England.

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