The Red Bull Junior team, Toro Rosso, could be on the road to becoming another attempt on a Renault works team, as the team announced that Renault could purchase them or they could have a Renault livery next season. This announcement comes, despite Christian Horner’s negative comments about the engine supplier a few weeks ago.
The French engine supplier has owned multiple works teams throughout the years. They owned the Équipe Renault Elf team in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They returned in 2002 as the Renault F1 Team, winning two consecutive World Constructors’ Championships during their eight seasons. They made a single season return as the Lotus Renault GP team, but had little success compared to their experience prior. When news of Force India’s financial issues early in the season, many people believed that Renault was planning to buy the team, but it would seem that this is not the plan.
The engine manufacturer has supplied engines to several teams including the two Red Bull teams, but in the recent seasons they have declined in performance. Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing, has been rather vocal to the press about the issue, calling them a “mess”. The team has spent more money than they are making, in trying to cure the power unit issues. The new rebranding of Toro Rosso, whether being fully purchased or sporting a Renault livery, is a way for the company to make back some of the funds that they are spending in Formula One.
This rebrand would also be a great step up the ladder for Toro Rosso and would hopefully improve their results. It’s no secret that they works teams get better power units than the teams that purchase the power units, because the works team needs to perform well to make the power unit look like it is great. We can see this already with Mercedes and Ferrari. The Mercedes AMG Petronas team performs better than Williams, even though they are running the same engine.
Overall, rebranding Toro Rosso for Renault would be a great move for the team. The only down side could be that Red Bull will be losing their livery. The company has threatened to pull out of the sport and this rebrand would mean less television coverage for Red Bull as a sponsor. However, no one, including Bernie Ecclestone, believes that the energy drink company will follow through with the threats. But it is still important to keep an eye on this situation.