Could Renault be about to buy Red Bull Racing?

renault rb

Red Bull Racing appears to be in a curious position with no power unit for 2016.

Dietrich Mateschitz has threatened to leave Formula One, despite the Red Bull contract with FOM to remain in Formula One – which runs to 2020 and gives them certain privileges.

There have been widespread reports that Red Bull have served notice on Renault to terminate their contract for power unit supply at the end of this season.

Christian Horner has admitted Red Bull Racing approached Mercedes for power unit supply in 2016, but was rejected.

“On the one hand you can understand Toto [Wolff, Mercedes motorsport boss] in that they see Red Bull as a threat,” Horner told reporters in Singapore.

“They’re probably not that keen to see one of their biggest assets supplied to a competitor. Toto made his position pretty clear.

“To be honest, we expected it. Toto, from the word go, was never a fan of supplying Red Bull. It was his board that was perhaps more interested than he was.

“But it’s not an option, so now we focus our attentions elsewhere.”

Ferrari have made it clear publicly that they would supply Red Bull in 2016 and given the state of Honda’s current efforts – this appear to be the only solution open to the Milton Keynes based F1 team.

Yet there’s still no progress on the Red Bull Ferrari partnership story and when asked today whether Red Bull Racing would be in F1 next year, Horner cryptically replied, “that depends on the desire of other parties for us to be in Formula 1.

“If we don’t have an engine, we can’t compete.

This week we saw Renault’s top man – Carlos Ghosn – who was visibly irritated – reveal at the Frankfurt motor show that Renault would not be supplying customer teams with power units any longer.

“We have been clear in saying ‘don’t count on us as a provider of engines’. It is clear that if you provide engines you aren’t mentioned when you win and you are criticised when you have problems.

“We already alerted the Formula 1 authorities that ‘Don’t count on us as a provider of an engine. It’s over’”.

 Ghosn made it clear that the breakdown in the Renault Red Bull relationship was irreversible, when asked whether any of Red Bull’s criticisms of his company were fair.

“It is not a question of fair, it is a question of sportsmanship. A team should win and lose together. What has been said is a question of sportsmanship. Again I say, you should win and lose together.”

Ghosn concluded his press conference confirming no decision has yet been made on Renault’s F1 future. “We will either exit or run our own team. We don’t have a clear decision yet.”

Yet TJ13 has learned there is a strong feeling amongst senior Red Bull personnel that the team will in fact still be using a Renault F1 power unit in 2016 and today in Singapore, Christian Horner was careful with his words.

“Before discussing any other engine scenario it’s important for us to understand what Renault’s plans are for 2016. They seem to be formulating.

“We will be sitting down with Renault to discuss that before committing or having anything else to talk about publicly.

“So for us, first of all, let’s focus on understanding what the Renault situation is, and then we can really address what our options are for the future.

If Ghosn is to be believed, Renault have made their position crystal clear. No more customer supply of power units. They will either buy a team or leave F1.

So however bizarre – there is a solution that would see Red Bull running a Renault power unit in 2016 – were the French company to buy the Milton Keynes team, together with their historic payment privileges.

Red Bull Racing running a Ferrari engine will almost certainly find themselves repeatedly behind the Maranello team, week in week out.

It also would be impossible for Red Bull to have commissioned/developed an F1 power unit that would be competitive in 2016 – despite the goings on in the secret building 9 with its 40 strong staff and full size Virtual Test Track.

The travails of Honda surely demonstrate the difficulty of building a competitive V6 hybrid F1 engine; and despite the Red Bull recruitment of Mario Illien of Ilmor fame – a competitive bespoke power unit in the next few years looks to be a bridge too far for any new entrant.

Add to this the current significance of having highly developed fuel and lubricants for the V6 Turbo hybrid power units fuel and lubricants, and Red Bull are no where on that score either.

Then there’s the loss of tens of millions of dollars from Total and Infiniti as sponsors to consider.

Maybe – just maybe – Mateschitz has had enough.

And maybe an FIA registered official team name, ‘RENAULT – Red Bull Racing’, may go some way to dissipate the years of resentment from the French engineering outfit over the lack of publicity and recognition they’ve received for their achievements.

20 responses to “Could Renault be about to buy Red Bull Racing?

  1. Wouldn’t that be an interesting turn of events … either way it appears that F1 is not long for this world, as the lack of interest from the engine manufacturers suggests.

    • But let’s be honest, it’s not like manufacturers were chomping at the bits to get into F1 during the V8 era.

      So is the problem down to the new regs and cost or are they just not interested?

    • I don’t really see how that’d really benefit them. Horner relatively quickly built the team up to what it is (obviously he was given the resources to allow him to do it) and has lead the team to 4 of each title. All the bickering between RBR and Renault aside, he’s done his job pretty well. One smarter thing to do might be to bring him in further and to tie him to Renault. It’d be one thing to say, “Right, Horner… we’re all one team now, so if you slag off the engine department, you’re slagging off your own team,” but if he’s actually financially tied to the performance of Renault beyond the racing team?

      And is Marko even technically employed by RBR? He’s an adviser to the team and heads the young driver programme. I suspect they’d have to get Mateschitz to sack him, or just lose the RB connection entirely. And I don’t imagine Renault have the money to buy out RB completely. But if RB are involved and still pumping big money into a team or two (as well as hosting a race), they’d want their driver programme in place, and to have a competitive RB branded team for drivers to go to.

  2. Wow! Huge! A Renault Red Bull team (Renault F1 Sport, sponsored by Red Bull)?

    Perhaps Ghosn’s men were told by Bernie they can have the big history TV payments if they purchase the Milton Keynes team, (and Bernie would know that Mateschitz was ready to do a deal).

    The sponsors can stay put, Infiniti, Total, (Red Bull), etc.

    Which may mean the demise of the Enstone based team, Lotus F1…

      • OK, but there are so many backroom deals, and historic payments going on…. could Bernie (financially) allow so may teams to withdraw from Formula1, with only 1 new team entering the sport? Doesn’t he have to ensure a minimum number of cars to compete each season?

    • I will place a bet that 2016 will be without Lotus and Renault, and RBR will run a Ferrari engine. I can’t even hazard a guess as to what will happen to Torro Rosso.

        • The article states staff were being told a decision was imminent. Something RB would obviously do to allay uncertainty. And for the record, google it and you’ll find plenty of other sites have reported the same story at that time.

          If the sole intention behind your comments is to merely snipe at TJ13 rather than engage with the debate in hand – they will be moderated as James Allen, Joe Saward, Will Buxton, F1Fanatic etc etc all operate.

          This policy is being applied to anyone whose comments fit this profile – along with those who have elongated arguments where the character of the other commentator is being consistently abused.

          • Question for the Judge:
            Your Honour, is your comment above in response to Craig G? If so, I don’t see what he said that constitutes ‘sniping’ at thejudge13, as he seems to be making an observation about Renault’s previous form regarding the speed – or lack of – regarding their intentions re: their future involvement in the sport.
            Indeed, both Horner and Ghosn are quoted in the above article as effectively stating that to be the case.
            Am I missing something?

  3. How would Renault go from offering to buy Lotus for 70mill with the payments spread over 10 years to paying 300mill up front for RBR? Did they win the lottery recently?

  4. Could Renault sell their power unit and IP+facilities to red bull?

    Red bull has been helping Renault for years and will already be intimately aware of the process.

    • True, but that would be odd. Complain about the incompetence of the Renault engine, then buy the rights to it. They would be saddled with the current design and a limited amount of freedom to change it. Unless of course they could argue that it is no longer Renault, but a new brand and thus not be token restricted. Even if they were so fortunate, it’s a bit late to do much for 2016.

  5. I disagree, the talks are about fulfilling Renault’s contract in supplying PUs to Red Bull and Torro Rosso.
    Renault will stop supply engines after 2017, not 2016.

  6. For what it´s worth, Eddie Jordan says that VW are about to buy RBR and and build its own engines later on, while Red Bull continues as a major sponsor. It sounds more likely than a Renault buyout, but.. Oh well, I guess that we´ll get to know pretty soon.

    One thing is for sure though, the team/engine “silly season” is more interesting this year than the drivers. 🙂

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