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Mateschitz plays down ‘Red Bull engine’ claims (GMM)
Dietrich Mateschitz has played down claims he is set to approve a bespoke engine project to power his formula one team Red Bull from 2016.
The rumours have been fuelled by none other than the billionaire’s F1 right-hand-man Dr Helmut Marko, who said links with renowned Austrian companies like Pankl and AVL mean: “You should never say no.
“We are looking at all alternatives.”
Mateschitz, rarely seen in the paddock, is attending this weekend’s Austrian grand prix at his very own Red Bull Ring.
He said he is coping with Red Bull’s struggle in 2014, following four consecutive years of title dominance.
“This is sport,” Mateschitz is quoted by the Austrian press. “During the past four and a half years, we have won almost everything.
“But it can’t be that way forever. And we know why we are behind,” he added.
Mateschitz’s last statement is an obvious reference to Renault, Red Bull’s underperforming engine supplier.
The team is obviously keen to match the field-leading Mercedes in a straight line, but obviously unable to switch to the V6s supplied by its arch-rivals.
Mateschitz, however, played down the reports of a bespoke ‘Red Bull’ engine.
“We are not a car manufacturer,” he said. “Our primary expertise is not the construction of engines.”
The ‘Red Bull engine’ rumour might therefore be just a stark wake-up call for Renault.
“Red Bull has high standards,” agreed the French marque’s engine boss Rob White. “So we understand the reasons for the statements of Helmut Marko and other team members,” he told motorline.cc.
“We want to satisfy Marko and the others so it is important for us to improve. But I don’t see any conflict between Renault and Red Bull,” White added.
Austria raises alarm for once-dominant Mercedes (GMM)
Austria has raised the alarm bell for Mercedes, F1’s utterly dominant force in 2014.
But although kicking off the season with a peerless double hat-trick of victories, the party came to a stop in Canada when cooling issues struck both W05s.
Team boss Toto Wolff said on Saturday that the problem has not been entirely resolved. And that was before the qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring.
Afterwards, Mercedes is contemplating how Williams – also powered by the superior turbo V6 engine – managed to get both of its cars ahead of Nico Rosberg on the grid.
“We are still in front,” championship leader Rosberg, although just third for the race start on Sunday, insists.
“Our advantage is not as big as usual this time, but I think this is a track that suits the Williams well and I also believe they are using a qualifying setup,” he told Speed Week.
“I am convinced that we are still the fastest car on the track.”
Others think Rosberg is right. “I think tomorrow (Sunday) will be a different story,” McLaren’s Jenson Button said after qualifying.
“Williams,” agreed Nico Hulkenberg, “have been in the top five all weekend. They are fast, but I think it will be different in the race,” the Force India driver is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
But Mercedes has other issues. Many believe that, after the Monaco ‘tantrum’ and his retirement in Canada, the pressure is starting to show on Lewis Hamilton.
At the Red Bull Ring, he will start just ninth after spinning on his decisive run in ‘Q3′.
“Mistakes happen,” team chairman Niki Lauda was quoted on Saturday by APA news agency. “He will not sleep so well tonight.
“Hopefully he survives the first lap tomorrow,” the triple world champion told Bild newspaper.
Team boss Toto Wolff, however, has even greater concerns than that. He is worried that Mercedes’ entire approach to 2014, in light of the utter dominance of the W05 car, needs a major rethink.
“We are still world championship leader and our car is still fast,” said the Austrian.
“But we have learned a lesson. It is not only teammates racing. There are also others who are strong.”
Wolff’s comments are a clear reminder to Rosberg and Hamilton that, perhaps because they are so focused on one another, they are now behind several rivals for the race in Austria.
But Mercedes is also taking a close look at the way it is approaching races, Wolff admitted.
“It’s a very competitive environment with a lot of pressure,” he said. “We need to look at our whole system.”