F1 Red Bull’s immaturity is exacerbating the problems


There’s a saying which offers wisdom for those presented with apparently impossible situations.  “When you can’t solve a problem, manage it.” (Robert Schuller)

Red Bull Racing having dominated the sport of Formula One for the best part of five seasons, recently found themselves with a mountain to climb. Their winning partner who provided the power units for the Newey uber dominant car designs have fallen on bad times.

Having been a driving force behind the new V6 Hybrid engine regulations, the French manufacturer have so far failed to deliver a unit comparable to that of Ferrari and Mercedes.

Red Bull’s response has been well documented and is best described as engaging in an ongoing culture of blame towards Renault, which has led to a very public war of words between the two partners.

Of course, read any ‘success’ guru’s 10 point plan of how ‘to achieve’, and pushing people beyond their limits is usually ranked highly in the list.

Red Bull may believe that they are deploying an ‘iron sharpens iron’ technique, but as Albert Einstein commented, the difference between stupidity and genius – is that genius recognises it has its limits.

Speaking to Autosport Renault Sport F1’s CEO, Cyril Abiteboul, has called on Red Bull to stop the blame game. He believes the ongoing waves of criticism are having not motivational and are having the opposite effect on his troops.

“What I think was needed more than anything was to again build confidence in ourselves. I compare the situation to 2005 when we designed and built one engine which allowed us to win the championship.

“I look at the confidence we had back then to do that sort of thing, to short cut all the processes in terms of validation”.

“Now, each time we try and speed things up we immediately get sacked on track because of various issues. There’s a downward spiral we need to invert.

TJ13 reported that Renault were ‘persuaded’ to take engines to the first race in Australia they knew were not properly bench tested for reliability. Further, Abiteboul has previously alluded to the fact that Renault believed reliability should have been priority one, whilst Red Bull preferred to pressure their engine partner to deliver improved performance and speed.

Until Sergio Marchionne took the reins at Ferrari, there was an internal war consistently raging between the departments of engine and car design. Since the culture of blame was removed, Ferrari have clearly moved ahead quickly and have at times this season challenged the might of Mercedes.

“That is one of the difficulties we have with our relationship with Red Bull,” Abiteboul reveals. “When you are not one single team it is more difficult to again build up the confidence in a group than when you are completely integrated.

“That’s one of the things we are working on. We are trying to get Red Bull to support us rather than bash us in public.”

Abiteboul says when he returned over the winter to Renault Sport, he told the Red Bull powers that be, it would take a year to deliver an engine capable of competing with Mercedes. But Red Bull’s obsession with the here and now has caused this programme to continually change course in terms of priorities.

“It’s a Catch 22, that’s why at some point in time you have to stop running after a train that has already gone and to wait for the next train,” Abiteboul observes.

“They’ve tried to induce us to work quicker, but if anything it has aggravated a situation that was very raw.

“We need to trust and listen to each other, rather than trying to change the natural course of things.”

Other wisdom literature reveals ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and Red Bull have achieved little by pursuing a path of abuse and haste with Renault.

Mateschitz et al should know that failure is an integral part of success.

Henry Ford is often cited as the founder of the modern process driven mass manufacturing. But he failed on a number of occasions on his relentless pursuit of success.

His first business building motor cars was shut down after just over a year when the investors lost confidence in his ability to succeed. Ford refused to be beaten, he found new investors and started again a year later.

Again he was forced out of this venture and had to find a third group of investors to start the now fabled Ford Motor Company.

Walt Disney, Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Milton Hershley and H.J. Heinz all experienced success then the disaster of failure – yet refused to be beaten and sometime later came back even stronger.

Renault’s heritage and success in winning F1 races, ranks only behind Ferrari and Ford since 1950. However, since they arrived in the sport in 1977 – they have delivered more winners than any other engine manufacture and have become synonymous with the sport.

Red Bull by comparison bought the Jaguar team and competed in Formula One for the first time in 2005. They were known as the ‘party team’ and for their fresh approach to managing an F1 racing enterprise.

However, the ‘fresh’ and ‘youthful’ attitude of Red Bull ‘on the up’, has over the past year degenerated into a pubescent teenage like petulance, as Infiniti Red Bull Racing face the inevitable difficult season or two.

Red Bull should realise that to solve their problem, they need to manage it – and their behaviour – far better.

23 responses to “F1 Red Bull’s immaturity is exacerbating the problems

  1. Good one; an enjoyable read and in my opinion, spot on. Red Bull senior management reeks of immaturity and that will permeate the team from the top down.

  2. I realize this is probably a translation error, but what the heck is an ‘inverted circle’? “There’s a vicious circle we need to invert.”

    • A whirlpool pulls you under and a tornado lifts you up. Or gives you wings if you will.

  3. The Red Bullies should have stuck to sponsorship. Their name would have been plastered over racecars and they could dip in and out of F1 as they pleased. Instead they’ve invested £1billion plus into a business which is totally different to their own. They put 10 pence worth of sugar and other muck into a 2 pence can, and sell it for a quid. Like Coke & Pepsi, they accrue massive profits, which they can spend on advertising.
    Owning a F1 factory isn’t like that and Dietrich Mateschitz can’t seem to get his head around the difference. Perhaps Mateschitz wants to sell his teams, but there are no buyers and he thinks belittleing Renault will force them to taking over RB. I reckon he’s gone too far and could well be running his cars on elastic bands in a couple of years.

  4. Agreeing with tuj,that circle must be broken. A circle inverted is still a circle.

    “Teenage petulance” seems well and truly apt. Red Bull’s success led them to believe they were the golden boys, and they can’t wrap their minds around failure and lack of success, and haven’t gotten to “what are WE going to do to get through this”.

  5. I really don’t understand Red Bulls play here, they seem desperate for a new engine partner yet their actions must surely be scaring any potential partners off. Who would be crazy enough to invest all that money to have Red Bull take the glory or just slag you off.

    A strange game play by what should be intelligent people.

    • I was thinking the same thing 🙂 With this kind of public bashing of their current suppliers, I’m sure new ones are queuing at the door… or not. Overconfidence brings mistakes and this certainly happened to both Renault and Red Bull, but after a point one needs to man up and solve the issues as best as they can

    • What about a return to Maranello? If Manor move to Honda as McLaren B, Ferrari with a decent engine again could supply RBR and/or Toro Rosso. Probably with a B-spec engine of course.. and throw in Danny Ric too? Friends close, enemies closer..

  6. I don’t think Red Bull want to manage this situation at all, that requires being where they are for another season or two and getting down to hard work in the meantime. They’d like to be able to pay a lot of money to fix it asap and start winning.

    • They don’t because if Renault were to leave the sport due to the rules remaining the same, then it’s a get out of jail card for DM. Remember they’ve got a contract with Bernie to remain in the sport until 2020.

      So if Renault does go as per the words of CH and they can neither find a new engine supplier or buyer for the team, then I’d presume that their contract with Bernie becomes voided.

      • Hasn’t Bernie suggested that ‘Division 2’ teams could rent some of the Mecachrome engines that Briatore apparently has gathering dust in his garage ?

        Sounds like an offer they couldn’t refuse….. For the good of the sport, obviously.

    • That is the RedBull philosophy unfortunately, they just buy things ready made or just throw enough money at something to make it happen there and then. Unfortunately (for RedBull) they find themselves in a position where they can do neither. All the money in the world isn’t going to turn the Renault ‘leaf blower’ into a winning PU overnight, or even in a week or 2, they are also not in a position to buy a better PU from someone else (although I was reading this weekend that the Porsche 919 LMP1 car is the only Car in the category that harvests energy from the turbo and not just under breaking through the KERS, so good crossover and it appears to work, but that’s a whole other topic) I can’t see any of the other 3 manufacturers even considering the idea of giving the big bulls a supply of PU’s.

      I feel there may be an exit strategy being played out before our very eyes. Renault buy STR and one of the VW/Audi family buying up RedBull and supplying the PU themselves.
      The question is, would RedBull Technology be sold as part of the race team or will RedBull keep hold of that part of the business and premises and carry on with projects like the Americas Cup challenge. Would that mean that really RedBull would just be selling their entry to the gridonly, if they want to keep their manufacturing base for non-F1 activities. That would mean who ever buys the entry will need to build a manufacturing base as well as build a team of staff too, if RedBull kept RedBull Technology, there may not be too many Ex-RedBull F1 engineers to snap up as there is a good chance they could be convinced to stay, especially if it means relocating to the continent and if the money is right, it may be more attractive to stay on. With all that in mind, the entry itself, can’t be worth all that much if it doesn’t come with a team, I mean Audi could just apply for a new entry off the FIA if that’s the case. Unless, buying the entry means the contracts for prize money still stand and then you are guaranteed a good income from the sport and a business model that can sustain itself. Then the entry would be worth substantially more as a stand alone entity.

      • Re the comment about the Porsche’s hybrid system…

        Was watching the F1 show on Friday and Ant Davidson called in and he mentioned the same thing. Apparently they (Porsche) are the only one that has a power unit that’s closest to the current F1 power unit. They can just turn it up a notch when it comes to qualifying and blitz everyone, the Toyota and Audi can’t do the same.

      • It’s been said that Audi would like to set up their own base in Germany.. that could fit with that scenario, taking over the entry but setting up fresh in a whole new location. Depends if RBR have an engine facility in MK, or it’s all for the Americas Cup..

  7. If one of my suppliers comes to the very first test of a new engine era and fails so horribly that they cannot get it solved 18 months later and are so behind the others that they are lucky Honda entered to suck even more…. I’d have ditched them last year already. Renault is building average unreliable engines and there is no way that they will have a competitive unit in 2015, 2016 or 2017. RBR need to stop complaining and just terminate the contract.
    As a professional team you set targets, you invest in people, materials and tools. If your target is to win, you have to eliminate was is stopping you from winning. And because they are having to work with that uncompetitive POS of Renault, no top driver wants to sit in your car.
    If your target is to win and you cannot get the package together, it is better to stop investing. So if Ferrari or Mercedes don’t want to give a good engine, terminate the entire project or set a new target of finishing in front of Manor. Would certainly be possible with a way lower budget.
    IMHO, if RBR really wants to win. They have to take over the whole engine department and throw 500 million euro extra at it. But it is too late for that now.
    Renault as it is, is a dead end.

  8. One thing in McLarens favour, despite them being in dire straits they have not started the blame game with Honda as yet, they are behaving much more professionally, though how long that lasts remains to be seen…

    • Oh, the blame game has started, it is just not quite so bad as the RB – Renault situation. Give it time; either Honda will solve it’s problems or the blame game will come to full bloom.

  9. atjudge13 wrote: “Red Bull should realise that to solve their problem, they need to manage it – and their behaviour – far better.

    Albert Einstein wrote: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

  10. Could it be that Renault – having recognised no-one really notices what they are doing, are looking for a way out? If at end of 2016 there are no customers left then they can gracefully withdraw from F1. In the interim, lets just mark time and run the clock down. Then lets see if Ferrari accept a customer with Infiniti sponsorship.

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