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'Never say never' for Red Bull MotoGP team
10 December 2012
“Maybe we just haven't found the right team yet” - those were the words of Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, when asked why the energy drink giant hasn't tried to replicate its title winning F1 project in MotoGP.
Like most brands, Red Bull first entered motorsport as a sponsor - with Austrian F1 star Gerhard Berger - but then made the leap into unchartered marketing territory by opting for team ownership.
Red Bull Racing's reigning multi title-winning F1 outfit, launched in 2005 after the purchase of Jaguar Racing, is the most high profile example of what has proven to be an ultra-successful strategy.
Mateschitz has also invested in a second F1 team (Scuderia Toro Rosso), a NASCAR team and four football clubs - not to mention an air race series, freestyle motocross championship and extreme projects such as Felix Baumgartner's freefall from the edge of space.
Red Bull's latest venture is tame when judged by the Baumgartner standards, but marks yet another new challenge: Red Bull's Media House has been awarded the commercial rights to promote the FIA World Rally Championship.
Following the surprise deal, Mateschitz held a wide-ranging interview with the FIA's
magazine, in which the Austrian billionaire made clear how essential motorsport is for the energy drink brand.
“They 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?”
Red Bull is title sponsor of the US-based MotoGP rounds, and also involved in various rider and team sponsorship deals in the two-wheel grand prix paddock.
However the only motorcycle grand prix team with Red Bull title backing is the factory KTM outfit in the junior Moto3 category - although Red Bull did appear as a one-off title sponsor for the LCR Honda MotoGP team at Indianapolis this year (pictured).
It was when asked about Red Bull's philosophy of ownership over sponsorship that the question arose: 'If ownership is important, why not a Red Bull MotoGP team?'
“There's a clear difference [between ownership and sponsorship], in both qualitative as well as quantitative terms,” began Mateschitz. “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.
“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.”
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