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Debate: Red Bull Exit threat - Should we feel sorry for them or is it their fault?

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Debate: Red Bull Exit threat - Should we feel sorry for them or is it their fault?
Oct 7, 2015, 7:50 AM

Red Bull is in the final stages of making a decision on whether to pull out of Formula 1.

Red Bull is in the final stages of making a decision on whether to pull out of Formula 1. The last public word from its motorsport director Helmut Marko was to say that Ferrari is 'playing games' with the energy drinks giant, offering lower specification engines than those it will supply to Sauber and Haas in 2016.

So we'd like to debate what the fan sentiment is about this situation - do you feel sorry for Red Bull that they have been let down by Renault, of whom they had a reasonable expectation that the hybrid turbo engines would be class leading? And now they are being cold shouldered by F1's engine suppliers.

Or do you feel that they should have handled the works relationship with Renault better and not find themselves with no engine supplier for next season, four months before pre-season testing begins?

Here two of our writers put forward their views, but we'd invite readers to submit their views in the comments section below (not too long, max 300 words). We will publish the four best arguments.

For those who don't want to write a longer comment, there is a poll below to gauge sentiment.

Daniel Ricciardo

James Allen:

How does a top F1 team get itself into a predicament where in October it doesn't have a competitive engine for the next season and is reliant on its main rivals to provide the solution?

On one level I have tremendous sympathy for Red Bull's management; they had a reasonable expectation that Renault would produce strong hybrid turbo technology and that combined with the class leading aerodynamics and chassis design, would give them a competitive car. It hasn't worked out that way as Renault underinvested at the outset, mismanaged the programme and the engine was therefore underdone last season - despite winning three races - and this season the French manufacturer clearly went the wrong way on development.

Red Bull is right to expect more. They are also entitled to feel a little hard done by that the advantages they enjoyed from aerodynamics in 2010-13 were taken away by FIA rule changes, while Mercedes advantages are mainly locked in long term as they are tied to the hybrid power unit. This means it's hard for rivals to catch up.

Christian Horner

But Ferrari has; the Scuderia has put its head down and made massive strides from 2014 to 2015 and it was there for Renault and Red Bull to do the same. I suspect it didn't happen because Red Bull was too aggressive and Renault's management hasn't been on its A game for a few years. So it's unravelled.

But even a few months ago, Dietrich Mateschitz could have saved the situation and turned to Renault with a proposal to bury the hatchet, move forward with a new plan to work together, rather than Renault buying a team, maybe even do a phased handover of the Red Bull team to Renault over a few years, with different management if that was what made it work.

This way it's all highly polarised and the outcome potentially brutal for the employees, the drivers and the sport.

I really hope Red Bull does not pull out of F1 as they do a great deal to promote the sport externally to a wide audience in demographics that F1 needs to reach, like the youth and countries outside F1's European fan base. At the moment over 60% of the global TV audience is still in Europe and that needs to go down, as other parts of the world come up. There isn't much sign of that at the moment and there will be even less chance without Red Bull's efforts.

Lyndsey Vonn

Against that, they have been a disruptive competitor on a number of occasions; breaking up the F1 Teams' Association, voting to get rid of Michelin in 2006 and blocking cost saving initiatives at various points.

Red Bull is used to owning the sports it participates in; all the extreme sports and air races and such like are wholly owned and controlled by the company. They are present in some sports that are controlled by federations, like Moto GP and Moto cross, but only as a sponsor. Only in football in the US and Austria are they a team owner as in F1. It has always seemed to me that they are frustrated by the rule making in F1 and come at it with the attitude of an entity that is used to controlling things.

They feel out of control now and they are right to.

Mercedes and Ferrari have little incentive to help; if they give their rival an equal engine to their own they risk getting beaten. But also, intriguingly, if Red Bull does pull its two teams out, then there will be four talented drivers that they can sign up and the $210 million that goes from the central F1 prize fund to the two Red Bull teams would go back into the pot to be redistributed among the other teams.

It wouldn't be fairly distributed (that's not F1's way) but if it were, each team would get another $20m, which is enough to make all of them sustainable.

Christian Horner

Alex Kalinauckas, JA on F1 Writer

If Red Bull pulls the plug on its Formula 1 operations, the sport would be left in a precarious situation.

I fully understand the position of some fans that dislike the team as a result of its steamroller of success between 2010 and 2013 as I feel Red Bull should have done more to thank Renault for its part in those world titles. Plus the constant team orders during that period and then the moaning about the 2013 Pirelli tyres rightly, in my opinion, incensed a lot of people.

That said, it is due to Renault’s current inadequacies that Red Bull now finds itself on the brink of exiting F1. The French manufacturer played a vocal part in getting the current engine regulations put in place and has failed to deliver two years in a row.

F1 without Red Bull would be much poorer. The “fizzy drinks company” – a toothless insult as, lets face it, the sport has always had independent outfits that were not car manufacturers – owns two teams and an F1-grade circuit, runs a very high-profile driver programme and has poured millions into the sport over the last 20 or so years.

Yes, if Red Bull quits Haas F1 will make up two of the spots next year, but the F1 grid will still be creeping down in size and will put plenty of people employed at Milton Keynes and Faenza in jeopardy. Red Bull also deserves credit for sticking with F1 during the financial crisis that forced Honda, BMW and Toyota out of the sport.

Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz

Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz would be without a drive in 2016 having worked hard to get to the top in an era when mediocre drivers with rich backers are able to buy their way into F1. The Red Bull junior programme, which has produced the likes of four times world champion Sebastian Vettel and World Endurance Championship winner Sebastien Buemi should be celebrated for promoting talent above cash. Although the less said about the pre-Vettel Red Bull young drivers the better…

A Red Bull exit would also threaten the race at the Red Bull Ring. It’s hard to see Dietrich Mateschitz wanting to hand Bernie Ecclestone the fee for hosting the Austrian Grand Prix and the sport would lose another popular European venue.

F1 needs Red Bull much more than the reverse and the sport has to find a way to make it stay. Sure, Mercedes and Ferrari feel nervous about supplying a rival top-line squad with engines but a rich team happy to spend an inordinate amount of money for F1 success sounds like an ideal customer to me. Just make sure you slap a “no whining, big stickers” pact into the contract.

So now it's over to you: write your argument below in the comments section about whether you think Red Bull has been hard done by or whether you think they've only themselves to blame. We'll publish the four best arguments.

Please also take part in our poll

Should we feel sorry for Red Bull's predicament or is it their own fault?
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Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing Shop Now
Tags innovation