With Honda set to exit Formula 1 after the 2021 season, Red Bull Racing (and sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri) will be left without an engine supplier for 2022 and beyond. Since Honda’s announcement in early October, there has been plenty of speculation about what will power RBR’s race cars, and it looks like team principal Christian Horner has presented an answer.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Horner revealed that RBR are intent on continuing with Honda power units despite the company’s impending exit, which would involve the racing outfit taking over Honda’s F1 engine programme.

“The more we look, there really only is one option that works. And that would be to try and agree something with Honda where we take on the IP [intellectual property] for the Honda engine,” said Horner.

However, there is a catch to this move – called “Plan A” – as RBR would only look to maintain Honda’s engines, with Horner saying that this would be reliant on F1 adjusting its rules so that teams freeze the development of their power units post-2021.

“It would only make sense to be an independent engine supplier, as Red Bull would effectively be, if there was a freeze. Because it would just be impossible to fund the kind of development spend that currently goes on with these engines,” Horner explained.

“It’s so dependent on what the regulations are going to be. It’s absolutely fundamental that there needs to be an engine freeze with these power units, until the introduction of the new engine [in 2026],” he continues.

This is certainly a tall ask of the remaining engine suppliers, namely Mercedes, Renault and Honda, with Horner saying it’s up to the FIA to decide. “It’s a big wake-up call for Formula 1 to have a major manufacturer like Honda walk away from the sport at the end of 2021,” he said.

“That leaves only three engine suppliers, and that’s a very precarious place for the sport to be. So that’s why the governing body really needs to take control of this. For Formula 1, to lose an engine manufacturer is not a good thing. It would be criminal to see those engines just on a shelf somewhere in a Japanese warehouse,” Horner added.

As it stands, Mercedes lacks the capacity to supply more teams, as it has already committed to McLaren, Racing Point (set to be known as Aston Martin Racing in 2021), Williams and their own works team.

Meanwhile, Ferrari will provide engines to three teams – Alfa Romeo, Haas and itself – while Renault (to be known as Alpine in 2021) and RBR’s split on acrimonious terms at the end of 2018 doesn’t really sound like grounds for a favourable reunion.

“At the moment, all focus is on Plan A. Toto [Wolff] has made Mercedes’ case very clear. And obviously Ferrari have their own issues they are dealing with. Renault don’t really want to supply us, their aspirations as a team obviously have changed. It’s inconvenient to supply a team like Red Bull, we’re not a standard customer team, we’re not a small team,” said Horner.