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