Analysis: How Red Bull could deliver an F1 rival


With no solution in sight to find an engine to power its Formula 1 teams next year, Red Bull could be forced out of the sport. Cue the Red Bull Grand Prix World Championship. Could it happen? Asks Jonathan Noble.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo going head-to-head in Adrian Newey-designed, screaming V8-powered cars in a new Red Bull Grand Prix World Championship that offered fans the best access and best television and Internet coverage in the world.

Be exciting, wouldn't it?

But is it the stuff of motor racing fantasies, or, as Red Bull's Formula 1 engine crisis continues, could such a vision actually become the most logical end game to the energy drinks problems?

For with no solution in sight to deliver the competitive engines for 2016 that Red Bull are demanding to stay in F1, the time is fast approaching where the company has to either back down and accept a compromise or go and do something bold.

And, with Dietrich Mateschitz feeling disillusioned with not only the treatment his team has had from Mercedes and Ferrari in getting rejected over engines, but that the sport's chiefs seem powerless to help him out, perhaps the time has come for him to show F1 what it is missing.

New activities

As the chatter over Red Bull pulling the plug on F1 continues, one factor that has been clear is that if the Doomsday scenario is played out and Red Bull quit, it would not be to simply sell the teams. It would be to get them out of F1 and shift the staff to work on something else.

Only last week, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that an end to F1 would not be an end to the activities of Red Bull personnel.

"If we were to face a situation that we could not continue in grand prix racing, we would have to look for alternative activities, for sure," he said.

"At Milton Keynes we have a lot of very talented people. We would have to find a way to exploit their talents elsewhere. Of course, my staff is worrying about the future.

"But I keep telling them: 'Please continue working and don't worry about things you cannot control.' "

A bunch of racers

Some people have suggested that those projects could include an America's Yacht challenge, or a space project.

But the reality is that Milton Keynes is a crack racing organisation, filled with engineers and brains whose life and careers have been involved in getting racing cars going around race tracks as fast as possible.

You cannot simply pull the plug out on Formula 1 and then hope it can be put back in for a project in a totally different industry.

But what if Mateschitz is not thinking of switching his men across to different areas. What if there is a plan to keep them in motor racing? What if at the back of his mind is creating the ultimate world championship?

For if F1's bosses cannot do anything to help save Red Bull's ambitions in grand prix racing, then why can't Red Bull take the issue in to its own hands and create a racing series that delivers exactly what it wants?

The Red Bull Grand Prix World Championship.

Series ownership

Red Bull's involvement in F1 does not follow its normal marketing approach to championships, because the energy drinks company always has a preference for owning events it is involved in. That way, it maximises both the marketing benefits and the income.

There has been talk for several years that Red Bull could change it stance and go from team owner to sport owner in F1 – but nothing has ever happened on that front.

But if Mateschitz turns his back on F1, what is stopping him creating what is in effect a top-level rival series?

The right ingredients

Money certainly is not a factor as Red Bull's huge profits would be enough to ensure the series is bankrolled with all it needs.

It could get FIA-backing as long as it followed the governing body's International Sporting Code and complied with safety and fairness demands.

Engines could come from Cosworth, and screaming V8s or V10s would delight fans who continue to moan about the noise of the current F1 turbo V6s.

The cars, much faster than current F1 and more aggressive looking, could be designed by Adrian Newey, and manufactured from Milton Keynes.

The first batch of drivers – Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz – would get the ball rolling and a big recruitment drive would deliver a good selection of other available names. Mark Webber? Sebastien Buemi? Dean Stoneman? Sebastien Loeb?

In terms of tracks, while F1 chiefs could make it hard for current venues to allow the Red Bull category to be held there, there are no shortage of circuits that would be willing and able because F1 is no longer there.

A series consisting of venues like Adelaide, Hockenheim, Magny-Cours, Brands Hatch, Estoril, Turkey, Zandvoort, Indianapolis – and perhaps soon Monza and Silverstone – would bring in the crowds.

And promotion wise is easy. Red Bull's huge global marketing infrastructure would spread its message far and wide; allowing the kind of television delights and Internet/social media presence that many in F1 can only dream of such are the stringent restrictions laid down right now.

A brave step

Hitting the nuclear button and pushing for its own top-level world championship series would be a very brave step for Red Bull, but recent months have shown that the energy drinks company is not afraid of speaking its mind and hitting out at rivals and partners to get what it wants.

Its feelings of rejection, its belief that it is being driven out of F1 by the fear of its rivals, has left it angry.

And when people get angry, revenge is often the next step.

And there would be no sweeter revenge than creating the biggest, best, loudest and most popular series in the world.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing
Article type Analysis