Voice of the #F1 Fans: A New Partnership For The Benefit of Formula 1?

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Heidi Wolff

Can the differences between two of the top teams in Formula 1 be settled and put aside for the good of the sport? That is the question that is being asked as news that Mercedes might consider supplying power units to Red Bull from the 2017 season onward.

For quite awhile, there has been a resistance by Mercedes to form a partnership with Red Bull to supply them with power units.

“There is an agreement in place [between Red Bull and Renault] and we do not want to interfere in legal matters between the parties.  However, if I wear the hat of Mercedes-Benz motorsport and I speak on behalf of Formula 1, I must say that it is an attractive option because it would tie a brand that has appeal among young people with one that is winning.  

But of course, as head of the team, it’s not really ideal to strengthen a competitor who knows how to build winning cars.” – Toto Wolff – Head of Motorsport and Executive Director of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team

Could this mean that the door is opening to the possibility of Mercedes supplying Red Bull with power units starting in 2017?

I hope so.  A partnership between Mercedes and Red Bull would have big benefits for the sport.

It would be beneficial for Formula 1 at a time when the sport is trying to find ways to appeal to young people who have a myriad of sporting options available for them to watch. Most importantly, the partnership between Mercedes and Red Bull would also be beneficial to Formula 1 because it would keep Red Bull in the sport.   

Currently Red Bull and its junior team Toro Rosso have four cars on the grid.  If Red Bull were to lose Renault as its power unit supplier after the 2016 season and not be able to secure another supplier for the 2017 season, the sport would lose four cars from an already small grid which would compromise the quality of racing.

Today young people know of Red Bull and the many sporting events and athletes that the brand sponsors worldwide but they may not have had much exposure to Mercedes, success in motorsport, and it’s full product line.  As the age of executives and entrepreneurs gets younger,  they are probably more familiar with Red Bull than they are with Mercedes because Red Bull’s target market is younger.

It would be a great thing for Mercedes, Red Bull, and Formula 1 in terms of increased exposure across different demographics that each brand may have had trouble reach previously.

The downside is that Mercedes would be strengthening a competitor that can build winning cars.  Yes, that is true.  There is also the strong possibility that the racing would get better and strengthen the entertainment value of the sport when that value appear to have hit rock bottom, alomost!

For me, a partnership between Mercedes and Red Bull would mean all of the things mentioned above and an end to the frosty relationship that exists between the leadership groups of both teams.  I have thought that the frosty relationship was a bad thing and, have for a long time, hoped that the two groups would reach a resolution to their disagreements for the good of the sport.

The question now becomes, does Toto Wolff form a partnership with Red Bull to be their power unit supplier in 2017? I think that he should because it would show that he has confidence in all of the parts of his team to build winning cars and stay ahead of the competition.  It could be a source of motivation for the team to strive to stay on top in Formula 1.

Of course, Red Bull would have to understand that the power unit that they get from Mercedes may not be the same one that the works team has.  They would also have to realize that if things go wrong with the power unit that Red Bull cannot solely blame Mercedes as they have done with their current supplier Renault.

It is important that if this partnership with Mercedes happens that blame be shared equally when necessary.  If this is done by both parties, a healthy working relationship can be maintained.

A chassis redesign may have to happen in order for the Mercedes power unit to fit in the Red Bull chassis.  The Red Bull chassis are very compact in order to get the maximum aerodynamic benefit possible and, until there is a perfect marriage between power unit and chassis, performance issues will most likely occur.  Those can be overcome.

All of these new challenges would also push Red Bull Racing to strive to overcome them.  In the end, Formula 1 would benefit because two of the bigger teams currently on the grid would have to use their resources in an attempt to stay one step ahead of each other.  This would hopefully mean more exciting action on track.

The battle between the two teams in 2017 could end up providing the sport with season long fireworks and drama at a point when it desperately needs it.

A Mercedes-Red Bull partnership is beneficial for both brands and, most importantly, for the sport of Formula 1.

In spite of all of the potential risks, the upside for the sport is greater.  It needs to happen Toto!

Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.

24 responses to “Voice of the #F1 Fans: A New Partnership For The Benefit of Formula 1?

  1. Assuming all of what you suggest happens, which I wholeheartedly agree with, and we assume Renault buys Lotus, would we see a return of Kimi Räikkönen to the team for the 2017 season? Or would they want a younger driver? That way could we finally see the end of Crashtor, or would he take his money to Marussia, Sauber or Force India? What other teams would Renault power?

    • Red Bull should do something something creative, like race with their own in-house engine. Why not? Red Bull has been whining and whining about how bad Renault is. Maybe Red Bull knows something Renault doesn’t about engine design? I’d like to see.

  2. your contributor should note that a manufacturer can only use and supply one specification of a power unit, I know about the mapping supplied and the tricks that can go with it, but that doesn’t change anything as regards the power unit specification.
    As for Mercedes as a team it is not in their interest to supply RB with their power unit.

      • Aren’t Manor using a 2014 power unit?

        Sauber however are still using the 2015 power unit without the upgraded parts.

      • Marussia can run that soec engine Only this year as the homologation date wasn’t set. The moment ferrari homologate their 2015 engine the the marussia pu becomes illegal to run unless all the other teams agree to then continue running it.

    • If you build 10 engines to the same specification, they will still be slightly different. So if you test them you can pick out the best ones and give the poorer ones to the competition.

  3. I’m sorry but I don’t see the upside with them partnering with Red Bull. We’ve already seen the effects of their partnership with Renault. How much exposure did Renault get? Practically none. They couldn’t send someone from the team onto the podium without them first covering up their yellow overalls.

    Mercedes as a brand is one of the biggest in the world and they’re already receiving significant exposure from their own factory team. If attracting a younger crowd is one of the sellin points to the partnership, then why not build cars that are more affordable and which appeals to that genre? How has that helped Infiniti? How much more popular is that brand? Have they now started to sell more cars to that genre?

    Also what about their long standing partnership with the VW group? Currently Red Bull are major sponsors of their WRC team as well as Audi in DTM.

    Secondly, it’s not Mercedes’s responsibility to see to it that the sports become entertaining again, so why should they decide to supply them engines on that basis?

    Could you let my know as to when the bad blood between both parties developed? Because I’ve been watching F1 for a very long time (way before 07) and I wasn’t aware of it until now.

    If Red Bull wants to easy the frostiness in F1 and make it more competitive at the from, then why not use some of that power and marketability to convince Audi to enter F1?

    • The benefits to Red Bull far outweigh the benefits to Mercedes, but it seems you’re assuming Red Bull would instantly start winning again. I’m not so sure they would. The Mercedes chassis is still the best by a mile and I think the Merc driver line up is stronger than Red Bull, even if both chassis were equal on track.
      For the competitiveness of the sport as a whole it would be good because there would be two teams, Red Bull and Ferrari pushing Mercedes harder at the front.
      As we all know, a Mercedes engine in the back of a Red Bull wouldn’t be running as optimally as in the back of the works team’s car!

  4. I’d rather not. Red Bull and Mercedes are already powerful enough, actually too powerul and drunk on it, and they’d only further their own (blissfully ignorant selfdestructing) agendas afterwards.

  5. The biggest benefit of a partnership between Mercedes and Red Bull would be to supply Red Bull/Toro Rosso with power units so that the cars stay on the grid. If Renault and Red Bull divorce like I expect them to, I really don’t expect them to use a Ferrari power unit because of what has happened in the past between Ferrari and Red Bull. That would leave two options either use a Mercedes power units or leave Formula 1.

    I don’t expect Dietrich M. to leave Formula 1 because Red Bull is one of the most recognized brands in the sport. Red Bull are in Formula 1 for marketing purposes, to sell cans of the energy drink, and to win championships. A Mercedes power unit would keep Red Bull on the grid and make them competitive again. I would expect to see a Mercedes-Red Bull partnership before I would expect to see a Audi-Red Bull partnership. Audi are having success in the other motorsport series that they are involved in that they don’t need to enter Formula 1 in the near future.

    No, it’s not Mercedes job to make the racing entertaining again but on-track battles between Mercedes and Mercedes power Red Bull cars would probably make the racing entertaining.

    From a team standpoint, it is a leap of faith for Toto Wolff and Mercedes to form a power unit partnership with Red Bull but it’s one that needs to happen because the Formula 1 grid needs the Red Bull cars. If the four Red Bull cars leave the grid and Haas F1 only brings 2 cars to the grid; that’s a loss of 2 cars and no one knows what the future holds for Sauber and Force India and their places on the grid.

    There have between issues between Mercedes and Red Bull for a while. I don’t like the tension between Toto, Niki, Helmut, and Dietrich and really wish that there would be some sort of resolution so that they could all play nice in the sandbox. It may or may not happen in the future. I hope that there is one for the sake of the sport because Mercedes may be Red Bull’s only way to stay in the sport if the Renault-Red Bull divorce happens.

    • “The biggest benefit of a partnership between Mercedes and Red Bull would be to supply Red Bull/Toro Rosso with power units so that the cars stay on the grid”…….

      But that’s not Mercedes’s responsibility, that’s Bernie’s.

      “I really don’t expect them to use a Ferrari power unit because of what has happened in the past between Ferrari and Red Bull.”

      So that’s 2 manufacturers that they’ve fallen out with. Now why would Mercedes put themselves in a situation whereby the same thing could happen to them? That right there is reason enough not to stay well clear of them.

      They won 4 in a row using Renault power, they need to sit down and hash their problems out together. Why should Mercedes run to their rescue, when they could also burn them in the long run?

      I don’t mean to sound as if I’m chastising you or anything like that, but the article reads as if Mercedes if should be the saviour of F1 and Red Bull.

      As for the tension between the two teams, I love it. It’s sports not a social club, there should be some tension and dislike amongst the teams.

      The entire Red Bull hierarchy has behaved like a bunch spoilt brats the last year and a half and it’s about time they learnt some humility.

      • If it’s left to Bernie to keep the Red Bull cars are the grid, it will turn out to be a mess. Right now, a Mercedes power unit helps the cars that it’s in the back of be competitive because Mercedes got things so right power unit wise.

        I fully expect Renault to buy the Lotus team and then initiate a divorce from Red Bull. Red Bull would then need a power unit supplier. If Mercedes say no to Red Bull then Honda might be an option. They underestimated the task at hand with the current specification and may not be competitive for a while. If Red Bull goes with a Honda power unit, the complaining will never cease and tensions would really rise but Honda may be their only option, in the end.

        If Mercedes don’t give Red Bull a power unit, I view it as Mercedes having doubts in their product. If they were completely confident in it, Mercedes would give it to Red Bull and think that they could still beat the Red Bull cars. The thought of Brackley and Brixworth working non-stop trying to one up each other is hilarious.

        As far as the drama between Toto, Niki, Helmut, and Dietrich, I have my reasons for not liking it even if it does add spice to the paddock.

    • Red Bull should just develop an in-house engine. Red Bull is one of the more profitable F1 teams, so they should be able to afford it. Maybe they could partner with Cosworth or some other engine experts?

  6. Manor being supplied by FERRARI with a 2014 specification power unit was made possible by the FIA special dispensation to help manor get back on the grid.
    FERRARI “the team” are using ICE number three, Sauber “customer team” are using ICE number two. These ICE’S are of the same specification as per the rules.
    When an ICE is upgraded for reliability or cost reasons, it is still regarded by the FIA as being of the same specification as that homologated. And so both upgraded and not upgraded ICE’S can be used on the grid.
    When an ICE is upgraded by making use of development tokens, it will be regarded by the FIA as a new specification, and so all of that make of ICE’S used on the grid must be of the same specification.
    This upgraded not upgraded (use of development tokens) confusion was triggered by FERRARI/Mercedes politics before Canada, was jumped upon by Adam Cooper, and used as a rubber band to this day by the usual mostly British F1 sites.
    There is a difference between notifying the FIA of the intended use of development tokens, to when that development is being actually made use of on the grid.

    • Sauber hasn’t been using the same spec as Ferrari, they get the upgrade this weekend.

      • As I have explained (differences between a power unit that has been upgraded for reliability or cost reasons and a power unite that has been upgraded by the use of development tokens) the power unites used by the FERRARI team and the those used by the Sauber team are regarded by the FIA as being of the same specification.

  7. Formula 1 has generally tried to hamper a clear front runner, so others have a chance. So if Mercedes don’t help the competition, there is a good chance that the rules will be changed.

    It’s almost always better to help the competition on your own terms. If Mercedes hand a slightly weaker PU to Red Bull, they will always have an edge. If they don’t, the rules may change in a way that they lose their edge completely.

  8. Those that suggest RBR should build their own engines or buy-out/partner with Cosworth really doesn’t know what they are talking about. The same thing used to be said about mclaren.
    These people out to understand that for RBR to do so. They would have to more than double their budged, and still they will be starting from zero, and that they will be taking-on the might of engine making giants the likes of Mercedes, FERRARI, Renault and Hionda.

  9. whatever engine supply RBR will manage to get hold off out of the present manufacturers, Honda included, they are going to be relegated to customer status, a position which doesn’t help at all to win a championship.

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