Speculation is growing about whether Red Bull might become a full 'works' outfit
Might World Champions forge links with Ilmor Engineering?
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: 22/06/14 12:20pm
With Red Bull refusing to rule out the prospect of building their own engine for the 2016 season, speculation is inevitably mounting in the paddock about who might become involved in such a project.
Speaking on Friday's edition of The F1 Show, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko confirmed that the World Champions are considering alternatives to Renault after the French manufacturer's sluggish start to the sport's new hybrid era.
The Red Bull-Renault-Sebastian Vettel partnership might have achieved a clean-sweep of drivers' and constructors' titles in the past four years, yet both Marko and Team Principal Christian Horner have become increasingly outspoken the more Mercedes have flexed their muscles in 2014.
With Red Bull committed to Renault until the end of next season, Marko suggested to Sky F1's Martin Brundle that partnership's future could even be decided after this weekend's Austrian GP.
Mercedes might have the power unit of choice at present but becoming a mere customer team appears too great a step backwards for Red Bull, whose splurge of success has led to the establishment of a preferential partnership with Renault over and above anything the other outfits supplied by the French manufacturer have enjoyed.
As such, Red Bull had a measure of influence in the design of Renault's V6 turbo. Yet the synergy between the pair pales in comparison with that enjoyed by Mercedes' F1 team and its engine department.
Perhaps it's that sort of closeness that Red Bull are looking to achieve; their announcement at the Canadian GP two weeks ago that Adrian Newey would stay on, and yet step back from F1 to oversee new Red Bull Technology projects, certainly suggests as much.
But Newey's background is, of course, rooted in aerodynamics and, as such, it begs the question of just who might bring the required expertise to such a project.
A perfect fit for Red Bull seemingly lays a little further up the M1 from their Milton Keynes base. Step forward Mario Illien, co-founder of Ilmor Engineering, the company that evolved into Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines.
Although Illien sold out to the German manufacturer in 2005, he subsequently re-established Ilmor Engineering at the company's original premises in Brixworth - Mercedes subsequently relocated to grander premises nearby.
Furthermore, it is understood that Illien already has plans for a V6 turbo. That Mercedes are currently picking fruits grown from seeds first sown in the summer of 2011 suggests that if Red Bull are indeed to follow suit in time for 2016, then the advantages of backing an existing project would be self-evident.
Ahead of their home race, Marko also spoke of Austrian companies that could become involved should Red Bull press ahead. AVL - whose 'rolling road' was used by Toro Rosso in a pre-season test that attracted attention recently - were mentioned specifically while turbo manufacturer Pankl are also well-known.
But if Red Bull are to spread their wings and join Ferrari and Mercedes as a true 'works' outfit, then might they make the shorter flight to Northamptonshire?
This weekend's Austrian GP is live only on Sky Sports F1. Race Day coverage begins with the Track Parade at 11.30am on Sunday