It’s a tough situation. Red Bull Racing (RBR) are in Formula 1 to win, not run around mid-field or at the back of the grid. They associate themselves with sports teams that are champions and who win. That much I understand and if I were Dietrich Mateschitz, I would want the same.
What isn’t clear is just how they will enter the 2016 F1 season or if they will enter it at all. While continued speculation has VW acquiring the team, I’ll stick with what we do know.
Mercedes had a long think about supplying RBR the team is parting ways with their current engine supplier Renault at the end of this season. Mercedes thought about it and thought, gosh…we’ve spent so much and achieved so much, I’m not sure I want to give our engine to a team like RBR with a guy like Adrian Newey at the helm of chassis design for fear they’d beat us.
Without a Mercedes option, RBR looked to Ferrari for a supply of power units and while initial talks went well, it seems that F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone, feels that Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne may have the same concerns as Mercedes did:
“For Formula 1, he [Marchionne] would love to do it, to get Red Bull competitive with an engine, but he doesn’t want to damage the team he runs,” Ecclestone said.
“If Red Bull get [a better] engine then they are obviously going to be competitive, it’s an obvious concern, but he’s frightened he’s going to upset his team.
“It’s now down to Sergio to make up his mind, and I’m sure it will be sorted out shortly one way or the other.”
Now, here’s the challenge. RBR are simply too good of a team to toy with and have massive resources on par with Ferrari and Mercedes. Giving them a full-on-song engine could potentially put you behind a guy like Adrian Newey in your car performance. The Singapore Grand Prix is being used as an example of that potential.
The other side of this coin is that if RBR do have the kinds of resources as the large teams, they need to find a new engine supplier but Honda’s current woes make them look unlikely as does a new engine supply which would take time to ramp up…just as Honda is experiencing.
Renault should have been their best bet and it is unfortunate that they couldn’t get on top of the new engine format better than they did. RBR’s decision to leave also signals that the path to recovery and real performance for Renault may be a ways off yet and RBR isn’t willing to take another two years at the back of the grid.
I don’t blame RBR for wanting a competitive engine but Ferrari and Merc spent millions getting theirs and perhaps RBR needs to consider that they too will need to start investing heavily in a power unit program be it their own or in partner with a engine maker in order to get back up front.
Regardless, RBR say they may bow out of the sport if they can’t secure a competitive engine supply deal and while many are saying, “don’t let the door hit you in the arse”, I feel like that might be a tad short-sighted as RBR are a huge player and investor in the series and I, for one, would hate to see F1’s biggest privateer leave the sport.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT