For the 2016 Formula One season, Red Bull have continued their association with Renault but have rebadged their V6 turbos TAG Heuer in deference to their new sponsors.
This isn’t the first time the engine in the back of an F1 car isn’t exactly what it says on the tin – here’s a few others from the annuls of F1 history.
The Italian minnows had always struggled to get a competitive engine deal, but with the transfer of ownership from terminally ill Gabriele Brumi to aviation magnate Paul Stoddart with only a few months before the start of the 2001 season, time was tight to secure horsepower for the year.
Eventually, a deal was struck for some ailing Ford V10s that were based on the 1998 unit, and had been previously named Fondmetal in deference to Brumi’s investment in the team. With the team takeover, the engines received the new badge European, after Stoddart’s aviation business.
Results were hard to come by, but it did give Fernando Alonso a platform to shine and outqualify larger operations.
The dream of an all French Formula One team came crashing down in 2001, with the former Ligier team ending up a sorry state looking for sponsors by setting fuel-light fast lap times in pre-season testing.
With the withdrawl of Peugeot after the 2000 season, the team settled on Ferrari engines with Acer backing, but it they couldn’t prevent the team folding and ending France’s involvement as an F1 constructor.
Megatron (Arrows and Ligier)
BMW’s decision to withdraw from F1 after the 1986 season put Arrows in too tight a position to look for a new engine deal, so they hired the German marque’s former engineers and convinced sponsor USF&G to back the project by naming it after one of their subsidiaries, Megatron.
The deal worked well for the team, with 1987 and 1988 being some of the most consistent seasons the team achieved. The engine proved reliable and fast, yet was dated, heavy, and was eventually ruled out thanks to the regulations banning of turbo powerplants.
Ligier also used the engines in 1988 during their search for success, but it only yielded a single point.
Renault’s corporate privatisation in 1996 saw the announcement of the company withdrawing from F1 after the 1997 season, right in the middle of a purple patch of titles. Mecachrome, the company that oversaw the building and development of the engines, took over the operation and paid Renault for the units, and continued to supply Williams for a single season in 1998.
Mecachrome also continued to supply Benetton with engines, but the Italian team re-badged them “Playlife” after a sports label of their clothes business. This relationship continued through to 2001, when Renault returned as a constructor once more.
Supertec (Williams, BAR, Arrows)
After 1998 Mecachrome struck a deal with Flavio Briatore’s company Super Performance Competition Engineering to distribute engines to teams under the Supertec name. This deal saw Williams and Benetton continue their existing deals, and also saw newcomers BAR gain them too.
Williams would move to BMW and BAR to Honda after a single season – by now the units were three years old and falling behind in terms of power – and Arrows became a customer for 2000.
Sauber’s first few years in F1 saw them have works deals with Mercedes and Ford, before settling on Ferrari customer units in 1997. These were primarily built to specification through title sponsor Petronas, which also planned to support the Swiss team’s construction of their own engines until a financial crisis in Asia scuppered the momentum behind it.
Despite this, the Petronas-badged Ferrari power pushed the team up the grid. The closeness with Ferrari bled into the politics to do with the sport, with driver Norberto Fontana accused of blocking Jacques Villeneueve at the 1997 European Grand Prix. The Canadian was involved in an intense title battle with Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher at the time, and Sauber’s close ties made the move suspect.
The partnership ended after the 2005 season when BMW bought a majority stake in Sauber, but the Ferrari engines returned in 2010 after the German manufacturer’s withdrawl.
The most successful combination on the list delivered World Titles to Niki Lauda in 1984 and Alain Prost in ’85 and ’86, as well as the Constructor’s championship in ’84 and ’85.
With McLaren searching for a turbo engine in the early part of the 1980’s, Ron Dennis managed to get Porsche on board with the idea, with backing from the TAG Group as an extension of their ownership in the team. From the years 1983 to 1987, the Porsche branding became more prominent as the success flowed, before being overtaken by the more fuel efficient Honda units that eventually replaced them.