The Sport Space’s F1 writer, Kyle Archer, talks about Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s latest threat of pulling out from Formula One.
Dietrich Mateschitz is an Austrian businessman who co-founded the Red Bull energy drink company and has now been reiterating concerns on the competitiveness of his Formula One team. In short, if Red Bull cannot get a competitive engine they will quit Formula One.
When the 2015 season got underway last month in Australia, Red Bull found themselves further down the pecking order than they would have expected. Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko then issued the first threat that the team could pull out of F1. At the time, Red Bull had just one car reach the chequered flag while the other broke down before the race even began.
But it was after the race when Christian Horner called for F1 to consider taking action to equalise the performance of the current engines. The first fear that Renault had not provided them with an engine sufficient enough for their standards as four-time world champions.
Helmut Marko later came out and said that Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, could lose interest in the sport and they would evaluate the situation again in the summer.
Marko told the Australian media after the race: “We will evaluate the situation again [in the summer] as every year and look into costs and revenues,
“If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit.
“These power units are the wrong solution for F1, and we would say this even if [Red Bull supplier] Renault were in the lead.”
If Red Bull were to exit the sport, it could have serious consequences for Formula One elsewhere due to Mateschitz also owning Toro Rosso. This could be avoided however with talk over the last month of a potential Renault buy out of the team. Although a livery change for Toro Rosso is the more likely outcome as it stands.
Regardless of the Austrian firm’s threats, they have a contract with the sport’s bosses that commit them to Formula One until at least 2020. If Mateschitz does lose interest in Formula One due to the expenditure and poor race results, they would need to find someone capable of buying the team.
But the contract keeping them in F1 until 2020 has not prevented Dietrich Mateschitz from coming out and publicly stating there are no guarantees he will continue his involvement in Formula One.
The Austria Press Agency has quoted Dietrich as saying: “We’ll only stay in Formula 1 if we have a competitive team, and we need a competitive power unit for that,
“If we don’t have one, we can race with the best car and the best drivers and still have no chance of competing for victory.”
Dietrich later went on to describe how the issue of the power unit is out of the teams control as they rely on Renault for their engines. As Red Bull are not a manufacturer they cannot justify investing in their own power unit programme meaning for the time being, they will need to continue depending on Renault.
Mateschitz’s claims in Austrian media come ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix and on the same day as they announce a multi-year sponsorship deal with China’s leading consumer electronics brand, Hisense.
Hisense are already involved in other sports, and motorsports, with ties to Nascar, the Australian Open tennis tournament and the Bundesliga team, Schalke 04. Now the Chinese company will have its logos appear on the nose of the Red Bull cars and Hisense products installed at the team’s facilities.
But for how long Red Bull remain in the sport is still up in the air. Yes they have a contract with the sport, but that has not stopped teams from falling away in the past or pulling out when the wins dry up. One thing Mateschitz’s threats can do is increase the pressure on Formula One to equalise the field.