Mercedes, Red Bull deal closer than appeared

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.


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Richard Piers

Think your negative camber was attached to a swing axle with the inevitable consequences when pushed too far !


Hm, I am not all that sure there was really much new parts revealed here. Bernie has clearly been working on putting the blame for the situation RBR finds itself in mainly with Mercedes (who RBR preffered, because its the best engine currently) and Ferrari (2nd best package) instead of pointing to obvious faults at either RBR or Renault. I think we should have a good look at what everyone is saying here. When you closely read what Toto and Lauda say, I take it that Lauda did agree with Mateschitz/Marko that a deal was possible but it would need… Read more »

Esteban Muller

It seems you have an axe to grind with Merc, in every article about the subject to put the blame on Merc, and absolve RBR. RBR are in this hole because of the way they treated Renault, and a company such as Mercedes needs to make sure they won’t be damaged the same way Renault was, and they have the upper hand… RBR crated their own problem, its not up to the rest to fix it

Negative Camber

No, I really don’t. I understand Merc’s point and position. I am just not as quick to label RBR dolts for torching a Renault relationship. These are very sharp people and I think we sell them short by thinking they mindlessly told Renault to shove off. I think there is much more to the story than that. I understand Merc and Ferrari’s publicly stated position just fine. I have no issue with that.

Paul KieferJr

Well, if there is more, they’d better say something, fast. Being up-front goes down a lot easier than keeping quiet and let everyone think you’re an idiot.

Numero Fibonacci

Google this article:
Analysis: How VW’s F1 vision helped kill Red Bull-Mercedes deal


The engine suppliers are too powerful now. Being able to decline supply to a team in fear that they will beat you should not be allowed (though it is understandable).

The Sarcastic SOB

You might as well require RBR to sell to anyone who wants one their chassis.
We should stop talking about these people as engine “suppliers” anyway.
They are racing teams that just happen to design and build their own engines. Which is actually more in the “spirit” of F1 than all the privateers that buy bits and pieces from everyone and bolt them together to make a car.


No one of us truly understands these murky waters but I believe Red Bull face a massive fine if they leave. This would go into the sport (the teams) along possibly with RBR’s prize money, AND their jobless personnel. Is there a general impression they’re annoying? Do most people dislike them? I think so, but greed is probably what’s driving the other teams to gleefully watch them die, more so than hard feelings or fear of their supposed excellence. Keep in mind STR are having the measure of them with a fractional budget, second tier staff and the same motor.… Read more »

Negative Camber

A key here is that Wolff said that their tie with Renault meant that they wouldn’t move forward until that deal was over and thus, red Bull withdrew from that deal and then Merc decided, for a host of reasons, not to move forward. that’s a big missing piece of the puzzle that has led to a rash of accusations and harsh words for Red Bull. They’ve taken it on the chin with fans calling them idiots for terminating their contract with no engine deal. I suspect, and Adam Cooper eludes to in his Motorsport article, that the team felt… Read more »


Adam Cooper’s Motorsport article basicallly confirms what BasCB mentions below: Mercedes told Red Bull to consider a wider view than F1; They needed Renault to give okay; But, separate from that, they also wanted to do marketing with Red Bull outside of F1 to offset possible dilution of their F1 success and make it a cooperation. Now, the article suggests that Wolff might have been working to undermine the deal anyway, but a) he wasn’t the one ultimately deciding, and b) Red Bull gave him opportunity to do so over the summer by not being active with that 2nd part… Read more »