After a dreadful 2015 season filled with step backs and disappointments, Red Bull’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz has drawn the last straw; either they find a competent and competitive engine replacement, or the powerhouse calls it quits in its Formula One participation.
The current threats to leave the sport hit the F1 world after unsuccessful negotiations from Red Bull’s executives to find a new power unit supplier that will allow them to effectively win races and remain at the top of the food chain. As announced during the first semester of 2015, this comes as a result of Red Bull’s decision to split parts with its long-term partner, Renault. Regardless of the past success the French OEM has been responsible for, which includes bringing home both drivers’ and constructors’ championships throughout 2010-2013 seasons, this has now become stardust and a thing of the past.
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal has made it entirely clear that he is currently focusing on the present – which regretfully for both parties has been infested with woes that caused them to take hits not only on their economic resources but also in their prestige as F1 racers. Given the fact that this crossroad is not an isolated scenario for Red Bull Racing, but also one that affects their junior team Toro Rosso, Horner’s responsibility to find a reliable replacement is urgent as they wish to remain part of F1’s 2016 grand stage. “The situation is quite critical because, as we sit here, we do not have an engine,” Horner stated at the Suzuka paddock last Sunday. “We are already late, very late,” he added. “For Toro Rosso, it is more critical than Red Bull Racing. It was already difficult two weeks ago, so we are very, very late”.
The situation has only intensified after unsuccessful discussions with Mercedes-Benz, followed by conversations with Scuderia Ferrari which have yet to come to an end. However, negotiations do not seem to be going anywhere but south. This is mainly due to Ferrari’s unwillingness to supply Red Bull with their latest technology and software developments. Nonetheless, this does not come as a surprise given the fact that “current Ferrari customer Sauber, for example, waited until the Belgian Grand Prix before it ran updates that were on the cars of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen four races earlier in Canada. An even more extreme example is Manor, which uses year-old Ferrari engines,” Laurence Edmondson, F1 Editor for ESPN reveals.
As a result, Mateschitz has been extremely clear on his stands, pointing out that “as a customer team you will only get an engine that is good enough to take away points from [Ferrari’s] immediate rivals. But this engine will never be good enough to beat the works team.” He later adds that with such a customer engine, Red Bull will never be world champion again. “If that is the case, we lose interest.” Ultimately, Red Bull’s final decision will be contingent on Ferrari’s terms, as they are now the last viable option for the prominent and maybe former F1 racing force.