Red Bull to quit F1? Do you blame them?

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I suppose I can understand the blowback on social media regarding Dietrich Mateschitz’s comments to the Austrian Press Agency as quoted by AUTOSPORT.

The issue at hand is that the Red Bull owner has reiterated that his team very well could pull out of Formula 1 if they don’t have a competitive engine. That has been met with a raucous round of haranguing and name calling on Twitter and fair enough but I’m not convinced of the mobocracy’s accusations if I’m being perfectly honest.

The criticisms range from name calling to accusations that they can’t hack it when they lose and they are being babies about the whole thing. Look, if I’m spending $400 million on a racing program to toil around in the back of the mid-grid because the engine regulations have caught out my strategic engine supplier, I’m not so sure I’d continue making that investment either. If I have not viable alternative for an engine supply to get, what I consider, a superior chassis design (Newey derived) competitive, then I’m not sure the program meets my marketing objective.

Racers vs Marketers vs manufacturers

These aren’t garagistas, in my mind, they are companies involved in F1 and they can come and go when the program suits or fails to suit their marketing efforts. Just like BMW, Honda, Toyota and Peugeot. When the system works, it serves a purpose, when it isn’t working it becomes a big liability on the balance sheet. This isn’t Ferrari or even McLaren or Williams F1. I have bad news, if F1 isn’t meeting Mercedes AMG Petronas’s goals, they’ll be ghost like Swayze.

Is Red Bull right to, what some call, snippy and act like a toddler? I say yes. It’s their money, not ours and it’s their efforts that are heavily subjected to the performance of a supplier. Not completely but heavily nonetheless. Is Renault right in their threat to leave F1? Maybe so. They too have looked at their overall investment and come up short on their power unit.

The only axe I have to grind with both organizations is that they voted for these enormously expensive changes and now they are struggling to find any upside to the massive cost of their programs versus marketing effectiveness. Renault, especially, threatened to leave the sport if it didn’t go to a electric/hybrid power unit. Now they are comprehensively out performed and it does sound like sour grapes. Having said that, if the situation doesn’t change—and it isn’t set to based on the regulations which lock development down severely—then I can see where they are looking at a massive expense over the next five years and to be honest, I’m not sure I would want to do that either.

Any bitterness I might have is that they, effectively, voted in the series-killing specification and bailed out to leave it to die on the vine. That’s not very sporting. When the mobocracy says they need to work harder and develop their way out of the hole they are in, it is important to understand that they can’t. The specification and engine design is homologated and there is no re-do…or at least there is not total re-design, only a portion of the engine can be improved.

If Red Bull leave, then one wonders if that means Scuderia Toro Rosso are history as well. Also, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a team threaten to leave although the last time that happened, we got these hybrid engines that have bankrupted three teams already. Food for thought if not for cute tweets while you are harvesting the mobocracy’s vilification about Red Bull.

In the end, good for Red Bull and Ferrari and Renault for suggesting that something major has to change or they are not interested. Let’s face it, the WEC is where a lot of manufacturers are gazing these days and F1 needs to admit they made a left turn when they should have gone straight or turned right. Why continue to ignore the elephant in the room? Of course Mercedes is going to have a real issue with any changes so I am glad I am not Mr. Ecclestone at the moment.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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B4_Slapshot

I literally started buying more Red Bull because of their F1 involvement and I’m not even an RBR fan.

Hate the bottom line….

MichaelB

Are the engines actually homologated? Upgrade tokens are still available and Renault has more unspent tokens than anybody else… I still go back to the fact that Red Bull approved these rules – just like with the whining towards the end of last season over double points – the teams have nobody else to blame but themselves. But for all the bluster, the real question here is how much does Red Bull really have to loose if they walk away. They committed to remain in the sport until 2020, and they get extra money for doing so in addition to… Read more »

peterriva

you are right about the wrong turn and the elephant in the room… something has got to give, and give soon.

Cass Racing

I agree with you completely sir, something has to change. The problem is that for that to happen, the ONLY alternative is to go to a less-efficient, louder, bigger engine. If the sport does that then not only is Formula 1 admitting that millennials aren’t really turned on by the whole “green” thing, Renault/Mercedes/ and Honda will be admitting that too. We all know this deep down, but these car companies are terrified of being politically incorrect. Personally, I believe the REAL mistake was chasing the car manufacturers in the first place. JUDD, Cosworth, Mechachrome, etc would happily make us… Read more »

darkslide_77

Why yes I do blame them. They made their bed, now they don’t want to lay in it. Last I checked, they are a part of the strategy group. The politics will always be played to the nth degree in F1, but the threats are just getting petty. When RBR was DESTROYING the rest of the field, Ferrari didn’t (I don’t recall) threaten to leave, conversely, Luca D told everyone to put their nose to the grindstone….But we all see where that has landed him. Yes Renault has tokens left to spend, but who’s to say that they aren’t hoarding… Read more »

mini696

Ferrari have threatened to leave before.

darkslide_77

I was referring to the RBR dominance…I’m sure every team has threatened to leave at some point. I didn’t recall them threatening to leave since 2007

Paul KieferJr

On the other side of the coin, I’m no quitter. “Qutters never win”, as they say. I have a little blue-color eithic, and I personally would…oh, wait, I was about to channel my inner Mike Singletary. Pardon me.

mini696

RBR have every right to leave. Sure they approved the rules, encouraged the changes, and now want to leave. But it isn’t because they aren’t winning. It’s because they simply aren’t competitive and have no light to look forward to at the end of the tunnel. Renault missed the mark so much on this one, RBR were not expecting them to be that far off point.

Tim C.

Does the old saying “the kid that cried wolf” mean anything here. I’m all down with Red Bull (or anyone else for that matter) evaluating whether F1 meets there needs. That’s just good business. But don’t air out you case/arguments in a public forum. Evaluate, make a decision, and get on with the program. If you think its best to leave . . . fine, then leave. If you decide to stay . . . fine as well. I for one am just getting tired of hearing about all this. The whole topic is wearing really thin.

MichaelB

I think you may have hit on something here… Just what exactly is RBR’s strategy by engaging in a very public slap fight with Renault and making all this noise over selling Torro Rosso and leaving the series? Are they trying to get the fans spun up over this? Do they actually believe Bernie and FOM care what the fans actually think? Are they hoping that Bernie and FOM will come running down the pit road trying to get them to come back if they make like they’re leaving? Honestly, if I was FOM’s legal or marketing boss I’d be… Read more »

Coji

There has to be a middle ground between domination and trailing the pack, and I feel they will find the medium. Think of it this way, when they were dominating, many fans were saying thinking about not tuning in because Seb was winning so much. They weren’t complaining then but that’s also a different situation. Following that, if they did continue dominance and people did walk away, would that not have hit their marketing strategy as well? Would they have thought, “hey, we are winning too much and people stopped coming/watching, let’s cede ground on the second place teams to… Read more »

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