The writing has been on the wall for an awfully long time, but now Motorsport Total reports that the Red Bull Racing Team will definitely not run Renault power units next year. The Red Bull F1 fraternity had to take yet another round of penalties at Monza with both teams being affected by expiring engines.
Of course, this was not the straw that broke the camel’s back as the decision to divorce Renualt was made many moons ago. The delay in resolving the matter has centred around how much Red Bull can mitigate its buy out fee because Renault are ‘considering’ buying Lotus. This would affect their status as the ‘works’ team in the Renault stable, so the £50m damages Renault could receive for the breach of contract will be negotiated down by Mateschitz’s lieutenants.
According to MST, Mercedes has not year agreed to supply Red Bull Racing with their PU’s for next year, though the resolution of Lotus future may impact on this. Lotus have a contract for 2016 with Mercedes and the FIA says the Mercedes engine customer stable is therefore at present filled.
Manor Marussia have been linked to both Ferrari and Mercedes for their 2016 engines, but it appears that with Nico Hülkenberg’s contract extension at Force India, Mercedes don’t consider them prime candidates any more – even as a place for current DTM championship leader and Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein.
Toto Wolff confirmed yesterday that there had been no talks with Manor about Wehrlein yet, but definitely had been over the supply of power units. “Manor is a young fresh team, interested in talking to all suppliers to get the best deal for themselves. That’s why we’ve been in contact.”
The Austrian head of Motorsports at Mercedes also revealed these engine supply discussions were for 2016 aggregates. Manor this year have been using 2014 PU’s so a deal with Mercedes will see them using the latest engine technology in 2016.
Beside the obvious new rival, Red Bull has another problem in their hunt for a new relatively loud bit – to nail into the back of their cars. They have a contract with Infinity as their title sponsor for 2016 and the luxury brand of Nissan is a direct competitor of Mercedes in the consumer market.
Infiniti are not so much a competitor of Ferrari and Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has already confirmed earlier in the season that the Italian manufacturer would talk “to everyone with a serious intent.”
For Toro Rosso this may mean a return to the quasi independance they enjoyed in a former iteration as Minardi, and they were the only team ever to win a race with a Ferrari engine, except for Ferrari themselves of course.
Unless someone at Honda wakes up and smells the cordite, and recognises the need a second engine customer team to provide incremental data for development, it could be that all teams bar one in 2016 could be using Mercedes or Ferrari engines. Now there’s a sport in the USA called IndyCar….