16 March 2015
F1 Australian Grand Prix: Red Bull issues quit threat over regulations
Red Bull airs its disillusionment with the regulations and engine partner Renault as it hints it may consider quitting F1 altogether.
Helmut Marko says Red Bull may begin to consider its future in F1 amid increasing disillusionment with the current regulations and a publically strained relationship with engine supplier Renault
Winner of four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013 with Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull was comprehensively deposed by Mercedes in 2014 in tandem with the introduction of the new V6 hybrid power units. Though it was the only team to dent Mercedes' dominance by picking up three wins with Daniel Ricciardo, it couldn't get on terms consistently.
However, coming away from the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull would find itself even further adrift of the front, with Daniil Kvyat failing to start after suffering a gearbox problem and Ricciardo finishing a lap down in sixth place in a race that saw just 11 cars reach the chequered flag.
With engine supplier Renault coming under fire for the performance and reliability of its latest power unit, team principal Christian Horner has already called on the FIA to introduce equalisation rules to halt another potential season of Mercedes dominance.
Indeed, Red Bull's frustration reportedly runs to the highest level, with Helmut Marko admitting to Austrian media that the company could go as far as withdrawing from the sport altogether if the regulations aren't amended to promote fairer competition.
"We will evaluate the situation again as every year and look into costs and revenues. If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit. The danger is there that [Dietrich] Mateschitz loses his passion for F1."
"These power units are the wrong solution for F1, and we would say this even if [Red Bull supplier] Renault were in the lead. The technical rules are not understandable, much too complicated, and too expensive. We are governed by an engineers' formula. We wanted cost reduction too, but it is not happening like this. A designer like Adrian Newey is castrated by this engine formula. These rules will kill the sport."
The threats come as Red Bull's relationship with Renault reaches breaking point amid rumours the French firm is considering forging its own path as either a fully-fledged manufacturer team or as a higher profile partner with an existing outfit, namely Force India or Toro Rosso.
Consequently, should Renault end its relationship with Red Bull, the team if faced with limited options for an engine since it is unlikely to approach main rivals Ferrari or Mercedes for a customer supply
With this in mind, the much-discussed entry of the VW Group – namely the Audi brand - has been raised again, though any potential arrival would be unlikely until 2017 at the earliest. Furthermore, the manufacturer has been reluctant in the past to commit to the sport in favour of more production-relevant series' such as the World Endurance Championship and the World Rally Championship.
Despite its ongoing issues, Renault accepts it has missed its first round targets, but Cyril Abiteboul insists it is committed to turning its fortunes around.
“We need to react, but not overreact, and get back to some basic common sense that has always driven our approach in all these years of F1 engine development. The season will be long, we have the time and the capacity to react and get this very bad start of the 2015 season behind us.”
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