We brought one of the most exciting pieces of news to spear the realm of F1, which was the imminent buy over of one of the most successful teams in F1 – Red Bull Racing (RBR) by none other than German auto giant Volkswagen, just days before the dieselgate scandal surfaced. In short if they can’t get a power unit sourced by the month’s end, Red Bull Racing is screwed!
Much has happened since then, but RBR is now facing the same conundrum as other teams with one crucial twist, while Mercedes and Ferrari will sell you a power unit for the season, it would be from the past season or that of varying specifications different from the ones powering the factory teams. These giants aren’t just going to hand you a current season’s power unit and jeopardize their chances of success, a point that was stressed by Mercedes boss – Toto Wolff. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and Formula 1 isn’t an exception from that rule.
But why would Red Bull be worried? They still have a year’s worth on their contract with Renault. But here’s the thing, because of the slump that RBR (and Toro Roso) has been going through for the last two seasons with power units that just aren’t powerful enough to be in contention with Mercedes and Ferrari. So the team severed the contract a year premature. Christian Horner, team principal commented on the situation as complete hopelessness.
Redbull’s in-house publication, Speedweek said, “Even after two years of development it lacks around 80hp to the Mercedes cars and its reliability is of pitiful proportions, the disappointment with the performance and the posturing of the French are huge. Instead of improving after the 2014 season, Renault has further fallen behind Mercedes.” Strong words indeed but it’s a sentiment that’s echoed especially by Adrian Newey, RBR’s chief technical officer.
With Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari out of the picture, it leaves RBR with not a lot of choices. Honda wouldn’t have been a great choice either judging by their performance this season coupled along with the fact that Ron Dennis will only supply engines if RBR inks an exclusive contract that would render them worst off than with Renault engines.
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz was quoted saying that the factory teams fear RBR and empowering them by supplying engines would be a suicidal move. The reason is simple, RBR has a budget per season that would make some small countries quake in their tracks let alone factory racing teams. The team is set to make a decision in two or three weeks time. That decision will either make or break the teams 2016 season. But this much is certain, Volkswagen neutered Red Bull with help from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.