Cyril Abiteboul says that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has until the end of May to decide whether to stick with Renault Sport power or whether they do opt to switch to Honda power for 2019 and beyond.
With talks between Red Bull’s Helmut Marko and Honda’s Masahi Yamamoto taking place prior to last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, there are doubts that the Milton Keynes-based team will continue their long, though often frayed, alliance to Renault beyond this season, but Renault’s managing director Abiteboul insists the May deadline for a decision is set in stone.
“Our engine will not be available for very long,” said Abiteboul to Reuters. “We need to start making orders these days for next year. We have a number of long lead-time items in the engine… and we need to start now.
“We are very clear with Red Bull that it cannot go past what’s written in the regulations. We need to know our quantity (of engines) by the end of May. That’s what they need to work around.”
Abiteboul feels the performance levels of the four power unit manufacturers on the grid (Renault, Honda, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz) all seem to be converging, particularly under racing conditions, with updates coming in to address the larger deficits there seems to be in Qualifying.
“The four engine manufacturers are very close from one another, particularly in race conditions,” said Abiteboul.
“There is still a gap in qualifying, we know that, we are working around that on a number of areas. There will be some stuff coming hopefully later this season, I’m pretty sure that Honda are working on the same plan.
“In my opinion, the gap (next year) will not be bigger from the gap we used to have from the previous set of regulations.”