Merc, now Ferrari with cold feet over Red Bull engine deal?

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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

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runnah

What if Honda is their only choice? Would they still quit?

MichaelB

Yes. Christian Horner said on SkySports F1 pre-race coverage last weekend that Red Bull’s engine options for 2016 are Ferrari… or nothing.

And if Red Bull is pissed over Renault’s performance they sure as heck aren’t going to be willing to pick up an even worse engine by moving to Hondas…

runnah

Well if teams are anything like drivers I don’t believe for a second they would actually leave. How many drivers have said “Its x-team or nothing!”

MichaelB

And how many drivers look like a fool for doing that? Red Bull has been saying for months that they won’t run in 2016 if they can’t get a competitive engine. So Horner’s comments, other than confirming that they were turned down by Mercedes, that they are talking to Ferrari, and don’t want Renault engines aren’t really news. Honda engines just don’t make sense for Red Bull to use. They’re actively seeking to get out of their Renault contract early specifically because the engine isn’t performing – so then why move to an engine that is performing worse than the… Read more »

Warham Pendrich

The real questions is would Ferrari even want to do business with Red Bull.

MichaelB

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that they have… STR was Ferrari powered until just a few years ago, and (it’s before I became an F1 fan so I don’t know the years) wasn’t Ferrari Red Bull’s original engine supplier?

MichaelB

Here’s the thing… Why walk away from your existing engine supplier before you have a deal for a replacement? Given some of the dirty dealing that goes on in F1 – why not knock of a competitor, and a major competitor at that by pushing them into a bind like this? The way they’ve gone about this whole engine divorce thing is about as naive as it gets. Backroom your replacement deal, with the necessary clauses to protect you in case some lawyer finds a way to lock you into your current contract – but don’t announce that you’re walking… Read more »

longshot

Seems to me that the divorce was mutual – Renault wanted out, which is why they’ve dragged their heels on engine development this year and spent none of their tokens, and that’s been confirmed after Ghosn said they weren’t going to supply customer engines anymore.

MichaelB

Renault wanted out because Red Bull has been slagging them for the past 8 months…. Once Lotus dropped Renault it was Red Bull or nothing, and as long as the engine is underperforming they weren’t going to be able to sign another customer team. And why should Renault want to put up with Red Bull’s very public slamming of them? Compare the Red Bull/Renault slap fight with the situation over at McLaren/Honda. Obviously Ron & Co are livid over how bad the Honda engine is – but while Honda has taken A LOT of heat for the team’s performance –… Read more »

longshot

Yes, all of that is true, but I’m just saying the RBR/Renault situation was a two-way street. Both parties have contributed to their inevitable divorce – RBR by their impatience and public complaining, and Renault for delivering a dog of an engine last year (when RBR did not publicly complain) and again this year when Renault spectacularly failed to deliver promised improvements, have continually struggled with reliability and have refused to spend tokens on performance upgrades. You ask why should Renault put up with RBR’s public slamming? They shouldn’t. Neither should RBR put up with a continued lack of investment… Read more »

dude

Yes, thanks for spelling arse correctly.

Patrick Chapman

I don’t think that any real F1 fan want’s to see the grid trimmed down by four cars, four good cars at that, but I can’t help but feel that this whole shenanigan has been handled really badly by RBR to put it politely. I think that DM is under the firm impression that he can dictate terms to the likes of Merc, Ferrari, Renault the FIA etc. and he’s in the process of finding out that he’s not as powerfull as his ego thinks he is. He has given up his preferential position with Renault and no matter how… Read more »

longshot

Thing is, there’s no skin off DM’s nose if they do leave. I’m sure he has exit clauses in his contract with Bernie that let him off the hook if there’s no engine supplier. Who knows, maybe DM has had enough of F1 and this is a masterplan to get Red Bull out the exit door? If they do leave, it’ll also be a great example of how an organization like F1 can self-destruct through the stubborn self-interest of competing interests within the organization, by which I mean Mercedes and (if they say no to RBR), Ferrari. It’d be RBR’s… Read more »

MichaelB

Given that it was Red Bull’s commitment to remain in the sport until what, 2020, that gave them admission to the Strategy Group, I can’t imagine that there are exit clauses in Red Bull’s contracts that allows them to walk away without significant penalties… Bernie may act senile at times – but he’s also an evil genius and there’s no way he’d let a Strategy Group member off the hook without them paying through the nose…

Negative Camber

It may be as tough to exit as it is to stay given the commitment they made…as you mentioned.

longshot

If RBR don’t get their way, what are the chances they’ll turn up in Melbourne with “soapbox” cars – chassis, drivers, pit crew, and nothing at all in the back?

MichaelB

Given that moving all that kit (and people) costs quite a bit (wasn’t it $10m that was quoted for bringing Manor-Marrusia to Melbourne?) I can’t see that happening. Plus, Bernie wouldn’t put up with those shenanigans… And what would be the point? Other than showing the Red Bull flag, what would this achieve? If Ferrari and Mercedes are unwilling to supply them engines, they’re unwilling to supply them engines… Showing up with bare chassis in Melbourne won’t change that, and if Red Bull doesn’t have an engine by Melbourne they’re done for the season anyway, because even if somebody decided… Read more »

longshot

Yeah I wasn’t serious when I said they’d do that – obviously it’d never happen. But if, on the one hand, they’re bound by contract to stay in F1 till 2020 else face steep financial penalties, and on the other hand they don’t have an engine … it begs the question of what they actually _could_ do.

Not that I think it’ll get to that. It seems far more likely they’re working on a deal with Ferrari involving spec engines and a degree of technology sharing.

Severo Mirón

With those tons of money RB has, why not to develope its own engine?
Maybe partnering with Cosworth, VW or even BMW.

darkalman

Although that is an option it would be an extremely expensive endeavor and would need at least 2 years to bear fruit. What engine would they use in the meanwhile?
Red Bull want performance immediately, and if that isn’t possible they’ll try to sell the team to Audi.

rambaldi

It might not take as long as that, I don’t know if you can still purchase it but Cosworth used to have a suitable V6 for sale. That certainly doesn’t mean that it would be competitive but they were initially planning on having an entry.

darkalman

If Honda has proven anything it’s that these new Power Units are all about energy recovery. Having a suitable V6 is great, but its the battery pack, MGU-K, MGU-H and control electronics that are the difficult parts to develop and make all the difference.

Richard Bunce

Is the VW CEO who resigned today the guy behind the VW into F1 with RB movement?

Tom Firth

Sort of. The former head of the company, Ferdinand Piech hated BCE so would never allow the companies under the VW banner to compete in F1, as long as it was connected to Ecclestone. Piech was ousted earlier this year, in a long running power-struggle by Winterkorn, It’s Winterkorn who resigned today … however it doesn’t mean that the person who takes Winterkorn’s job and the rest of the VW board, doesn’t also have intentions to enter F1, given Ferdinand Piech remains out of the picture effectively. It’s all rather complex because Porsche and VW are quite intertwined, as well… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

Would Bernie actually allow VW to enter given the recent revelations? I’d be more worried about a RICO shutdown on the USA end than I would about entering F1.

Tom Firth

Why wouldn’t he?

Not that he could stop them, if it’s a B2B deal with Red Bull.

grimreaper

Yes he was he ousted the previous CEO in the 1st part of the year. Yet 6 months later he too has been forced out by incompetence. So VW Group will not be spending +£500M to buy Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Eddie ‘The Village Idiot’ Jordan is shot down in flames.

nightryder21

I agree with Red Bull. This whole debacle has been the fault of F1 not knowing how to deal huge independent egos. Red Bull has done so much for F1. Much of this could have been avoided by relaxing the draconian engine rules. F1 created the environment for this to occur. Its the reason why Honda is where they are now. They cannfix the problem but camtndue to the rules. F1 has their head somfar upntherenass that they can’t see what’s going on.

Warham Pendrich

Well, reality is that the engine regs are there. It’s no surprise to Red Bull. Bottom line, Red Bull screwed themselves and now they want Ferrari to pay for it? You’ve got to be kidding. Their draconian behavior towards Renault does not entice other teams to want to do business with them. You know what they say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the paddock.

longshot

As far as I know Red Bull are happy to pay Ferrari for their engines – I don’t see that Ferrari would be paying for anything.

MichaelB

The problem I have with blaming “F1” for this – is that it was the Strategy Group that came up with these rules… Red Bull is a member of the Strategy Group and VOTED FOR these rules.

Christian Horner has come out and said that he was against these rules when they were proposed, and admits that even still – he VOTED FOR these rules… Red Bull could have vetoed these rules, but they didn’t. They have admitted that they took a gamble that they would be the ones to get it right… and lost.

longshot

If the rules are hurting the sport, then who cares about which teams voted for them? Its not like the rules are now written in stone and cannot be changed, all it needs are the teams to put aside their self interest and work together for the good of F1, and come up with rules that are more sustainable and don’t allow two engine manufacturers to decide which teams can compete & which can’t.

MichaelB

My point is – none of the Strategy Group members get to play the victim over their lack of success under these rules. Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari etc… they voted for these rules – and they knew quite well what the consequences would be if their latest designs weren’t competitive. And asking the teams to “put aside their self interest and work together for the good of F1” won’t happen. The Team Principal’s job is to look after the best interests of the team first and foremost – not the best interest of the sport. The teams are and always… Read more »

SurveyorTom

My first instinct is leaving towards the door-arse scenario. RB came into the sport and did a wonderful job, no doubt about that. But for all those years they dominated and the other teams ate their dust I don’t recall Ferrari or any other team behaving like a toddler and screaming “if we can’t have equal access to Adrian Newey we are out of Formula 1”. Better yet, firing their own designer and then stating that! Considering the current difficulties that VW is facing, I think its safe to say that they will not be coming to the rescue with… Read more »

maserati123

I AGREE WITH YOU, FERRARI DID NOT TALK ABOUT LEAVING WHEN THEY WERE LOOSING.RBR ARE BEGGING AND DEMANDING AT THE SAME TIME,

gsprings

wonder what vettel and kimi think about redbull getting the same spec engine they would be running, i bet they don’t like it

gsprings

i mean think about it,how embarrasing would it be for redbull (soft drink maker) to beat ferarri with it’s own works engine, ferarri would be like,they beat us with someone elses engine, now they are beating us with our own engines

longshot

Self interest is going to ruin F1. If Red Bull go, that’ll leave only Ferrari & Mercedes with a chance of winning the championship, with everyone else simply making up the numbers until at least 2020 when the regulations might change.

If this happens, well, I doubt I’ll find much reason to watch F1 anymore as the races would be farcical.

maserati123

DO NOT GIVE RED BULL ENGINES FERRARI.DON’T LET A FEW DOLLARS POISON OUR THOUGHTS..PLEASE. SCREW RBR…THEY ARE BEGGING AND ALSO DEMANDING.GO BUILD YOU OWN ENGINES.

Negative Camber

You might have your “caps lock” on mate, makes your comments hard to read.

longshot

Looks like things may be progressing towards a resolution (google translate may be required if you don’t speak Spanish) … http://www.guiamotor.com/DetalleNoticia.aspx?noticiaId=9871

Andreas Möller

Todd – I must say your headline about “cold feet” was very apt. I can definitely see both Merc and Ferrari getting cold feet, for a few different reasons. First and foremost, of course the idea of the team with arguably the best chassis (and the deepest pockets) being provided exactly the same engine as you provide yourself, is a bit daft. That kind of altruism hardly exists in F1 (or any sport, for that matter). Secondly, the very public and vocal split between RB (funny that Toro Rosso hasn’t complained nearly as much – in fact, it seems the… Read more »

DRS_Matt

I’ll repeat: “DONT LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE ARSE”. Perhaps if they didnt constantly shit-talk the partner that brought them 4 championships on the trot and act like “Red bull” means the same thing as “Williams” or “Mclaren” i wouldnt say that.

I said this for renault and i’ll say it now, the last thing f1 needs is another sweet deal from bernie taking money from the smaller teams like marussia, force india or lotus. If red bull goes, more TV money for the teams that dont whine, but keep their heads down and work.

Sir Andrew

Reading the tea leaves, reading the news I predict one of two outcomes; 1. Red bull and Toro Rosso get the Ferrari engine, BUT the coding is left open for RBR to tinker with. So they get 2016 engines, but not full parity with Ferrari, probbly badges as Alfa Romeo. OR 2. Wait for this. They are going to stay with Renault. Really, how long has it been since a Renault engine blew up? VW enter F1 and have an engine red in two years, and will pay Red Bull Ltd the difference in championship points until then. ** DIsclaimer.… Read more »