Red Bull refuses to rule out MotoGP
18 February 2013
Despite not yet considering his F1 operation to have joined the category's elite, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz admits that branching out into two wheels remains an option.
The Austrian insists that the brand remains open to expanding its involvement in the action sports arena that it has almost made its own over the past decade, and a return to top flight motorcycle racing would rank alongside investment in other extreme sports or one-off projects such as the Red Bull Stratos mission that saw Felix Baumgartner freefall from the edge of space in 2012.
"The sports industry and special events [like Red Bull Stratos] will always be an important part of our budget,” Mateschitz told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport, “However, this must not necessarily correspond with larger budgets.”
Asked whether he would specifically look at taking his brand back to MotoGP, where it once graced the WCM Yamahas campaigned by the likes of Garry McCoy and Simon Crafar, Mateschitz admitted that he could not rule out the possibility.
"MotoGP is a fantastic sport and there has always been fascination [for us],” he acknowledged, “Our input could certainly be conceivable.”
Mateschitz's comments echoes similar sentiments expressed in an official FIA interview late last season, following Red Bull's media arm taking over the promotion of the World Rally Championship – another motorsport arena where it has chosen to invest in recent years. In that conversation, the Austrian appeared open to either sponsoring or owning a team.
“There's a clear difference [between ownership and sponsorship], in both qualitative as well as quantitative terms,” he reasoned, “With sponsorship, you buy a rear wing or advertising hoarding at a football stadium or ice hockey arena, or whatever event, for x amount of money [but], with ownership, you're 100 per cent responsible, you're part of the landscape and your contribution to success, or lack of it, is considerable.
“As for MotoGP, never say never; maybe we just haven't found the right team yet.”
Red Bull's current involvement in the MotoGP series is limited to title sponsorship of the two US-based MotoGP rounds, but also extends to various individual rider deals.
While it backed the LCR Honda MotoGP team at Indianapolis in 2012, its main interest is title backing of the factory KTM outfit in the junior Moto3 category.
The brand's F1 reach, meanwhile, extends beyond Red Bull Racing to also include the junior Scuderia Toro Rosso operation – involvement that grew from simple driver sponsorship to cover the purchase of both the Jaguar and Minardi teams.
Mateschitz's other investments cover four football clubs, an air race series, freestyle motocross championship, various snow sport categories and extreme projects such Red Bull Stratos.
“[Red Bull and motorsport] complement each other perfectly,” he said, “My answer to the question as to whether Red Bull is integral to our motorsport commitment or whether Red Bull needs motorsport is this: which is most important when you're walking, the left foot or the right foot?”
With the company's involvement in F1 unlikely to wane any time soon, Gazzetta asked Mateschitz whether he considered winning a hat-trick of team and driver titles to have elevated Red Bull Racing among the legends of the sport.
"The achievement is not so bad, but we are certainly not a legendary name just yet,” he conceded, “It is still a beginning. The world championship is so long and the tension it brings is unique - like many other things that 'make' Red Bull.”