Reading Ian Parkes’ piece over at AUTOSPORT, I begin to get the impression that Red Bull Racing may have been much further down the line in talks with Mercedes than originally reported.
Much of the criticism of Red Bull over their current engine dilemma and lack of a supplier for 2016, has centered on the fact they torched their relationship with Renault before having a willing supplier for next year. I understand that criticism but I have always maintained there must be more to the story than that.
It now seems they were relatively convinced they would be working with Mercedes in 2016 and therefore moved away from Renault. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone revealed that they broke their relationship with Renault as they felt they had a deal with Mercedes in hand but the German car maker didn’t come through.
Having said that, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has responded to add clarity from their position:
“The first was we needed carte blanche from Renault as they are an industrial partner of Mercedes, and we would never do anything against them,” said Wolff.
“Unless Renault gave us the go ahead we couldn’t move. It would be in breach of contract, and there is a much bigger picture involving Renault and Mercedes than Formula 1, such as the joint factories in Mexico.
“The other thing we said is if we supply Red Bull with an engine in Formula 1 there is a possibility of diluting the message around our own success because they could be very successful with our engine.
“That would be fair and square, but in order to accept that we would need to know what kind of marketing activities we could deploy on a worldwide scale with each other.
“If we were being damaged on the F1 side, how much could we then benefit on the global side? Can we do a car scheme, joint events, joint platforms? Please come up with the person we can talk to.
“As you know, in the end, nothing happened.”
I get the impression that RBR felt they had a deal but then Mercedes added caveats to the deal which became untenable for them leaving them with no engine deal for 2016. So Mercedes has Renault commercial ties and Renault isn’t happy with Red Bull and apparently Mercedes didn’t fill the gap. Now Ferrari aren’t keen to offer a supply. This leaves the tender for a new engine format in 2017 which the FIA just announced. This tender is a clear effort by F1 and the FIA to take on the manufacturers for control of the sport.
It’s all getting rather complicated but as with F1, things are usually more complicated than they appear to be on the surface. I believe there are details to the Red Bull situation that are beyond our line of sight and would explain the actions of the players involved.
Mercedes boss, Niki Lauda, played down the situation originally making it sound as if they had one brief chat and Red Bull never spoke to them again about it. Now it seems that the deal had hair on it and perhaps it was more involved than just a simple chat at the men’s urinal over a race weekend in July.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT