The current agreement for Renault to supply F1 engines to both Red Bull and Toro Rosso concludes at the end of 2016.
What has been astonishing is that despite the recent domination of this chassis/engine partnership, Dietrich Mateschitz has sanctioned repeated brutal public attacks by his lieutenants on their F1 engine partner. This war of words is now in its second year.
Since entering F1 in 1977, Renault have been the more successful than any other engine supplier of their era and of course powered RBR to four consecutive constructor and driver world titles.
Yet despite all this, Red Bull have their eyes on a new lover and it seems the divorce with Renualt is now being finalised.
TJ13 has learned a number of meetings took place during the Canadian GP weekend where the option for Red Bull and Toro Rosso to become Ferrari engine customers in 2017 was discussed in detail.
Toro Rosso would like Sauber and Manor before them, take a ‘B’ grade engine that is around 25-35 BHP less than that Ferrari would provide for themselves and the Red Bull team.
The price of a Ferrari customer engine is believed to be in the region of 18 million euros per annum.
Helmet Marko has allegedly commented, that using a ‘B’ version of the Ferrari power unit would still be more powerful than the ‘A’ version from Renault.
The cudgel blows continue to rain down on the French F1 engine manufacturer.
TJ13 now believes the Red Bull hierarchy met on the Wednesday following the Canadian GP and decided that they would not be renewing their contract with Renault.
If we look at the qualifying gaps between the lead Red Bull and the lead Ferrari, we see that over the first seven races of the 2015 the deficit for Red Bull averages 0.905 seconds. In Canada it was over 1 second.
There has to be a big question over whether this decision is the right one for Red Bull to make. From a pragmatic point of view, yes Red Bull would be qualifying better than their current 7, 8, 9 and 10th. However, could they ever win another championship whilst running another works team’s engine?
McLaren are suffering pain like never before to avoid exactly this situation. They shunned the all-conquering Mercedes V6 Turbo Hybrid to forge a relationship with an independent F1 engine supplier.
And what for Renault?
Well, talks of Toro Rosso being sold to Renault now appear to be history.
Then again, this could be a carrot being dangled in front of Renault, in an attempt to persuade them to move ahead and acquire the team based in Faenza – before its too late.
Lotus have said they are not for sale should Renault wish to buy a team and run it as a ‘works’ outfit.
Realistically this leaves Force India and Manor F1 as target acquisitions for Renault if they are to remain in Formula One.
So TJ13 readers, where’s your money?
Renault to remain in F1 and Vijay taking a half decent offer to sell – then heading ‘toute suite’ for the hills… or an island where the Indian authorities can’t find him?
That said, when Renault last acquired an F1 work’s team – auto manufacturers Peugeot, Ford, Toyota and Honda were all making big plans for F1 and Mercedes and BMW were increasing their investment in the sport.
Who is now left, and who is banging down the door to enter Formula One?