In the wake of Honda pulling out of F1 at the end of this year, Red Bull has done a deal to take over the Japanese manufacturer’s power unit project from 2022.
In the longer term, Red Bull has ambitious plans to create its own engine entirely for new regulations that are set to come in for 2025.
The investment that Red Bull is making for the powertrain project is extensive, and matches what the energy drinks company made when it first took over the Jaguar team at the end of 2004.
But while Brown thinks that Red Bull has the resources and commitment to make a success of the project, he thinks a team doing its own engine is not without risks.
“I think their decision is very, very brave,” said Brown. “I think it definitely could be successful. Red Bull is a great racing organisation with lots of resources.
“But I think had the engine freeze not taken place, I’m not sure they would have taken on the project, because it would just require tonnes of continued development resources that would probably push that over the edge of being fiscally feasible.
“So I think it was good that we got to a place where the rules are slowing down the spend.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
With Red Bull committing to taking on the might of major manufacturers like Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, Brown thinks it will not be an easy thing to be managing.
“It’s not without risks,” he said. “I think bringing on an organisation like that, with hundreds of employees, you know, that’s a lot of work to add to your plate. That being said, they appear to be hiring some very talented people.”
Brown says that the unique circumstances of Honda’s withdrawal, which has given Red Bull a ready-made engine from the off, is the only thing that made the project viable.
It’s why he thinks it unlikely McLaren would consider doing its own power unit for now.
“Because of the way they were able to take over an existing engine and lots of IP and infrastructure, that’s made it much more cost effective than starting from scratch,” added Brown.
“I don’t see McLaren doing engines anytime soon, because I don’t think Red Bull would have moved into the engine space had this opportunity to take off where Honda left off, presented itself.”