Maybe those who have been fans of Formula One for many years can gain comfort that the sport is in the frequent chaos, which it finds itself in more often than not.
Currently, F1 is set to lose four cars from the grid in 2016 as Red Bull’s plight – of cars without power units drags on and on.
Christian Horner stated at the weekend, that both Red Bull teams could find themselves without a power unit unless Ferrari promise to supply them with one that is on parity with the one Maranello chooses to place in its own cars.
Of course Red Bull always had the option of mending fences with Renault, and in fact in March this year the big boss of the fizzy drinks company said, “there is no alternative to Renault in 2016″.
Yet with a Tourette’s like compulsion, the Red Bull senior management has consistently and publicly abused their French F1 power unit partner. The result, the decision over continuing a relationship with Renault has been taken out of Red Bull’s hands.
Rneault-Nissan’s top boss, Carlos Ghosn’s, made it crystal clear last week that Renault would not be criticised any more and was withdrawing its supply of customer engines. So that particular power train option for Mateschitz et al looks to have finally left the station.
Speedweek, the mouthpiece of Red Bull, are reporting today, “all indications suggest: Red Bull will withdraw both teams from Formula 1 at the end of the year – because a competitive winning engine is not on the horizon”.
Mateschitz is quoted as repeating the Ron Dennis line about not being unable to win world championships unless they have a ‘factory’ power unit supply. “As a customer team you will only get an engine that is good enough to take away points from their immediate rivals. But this engine will never be good enough to beat the works team.
“With such a customer engine we will never be world champion again. And if that’s the case we lose interest.”says the Austrian billionaire.
However, Red Bull did have such a relationship with Renault, who has been the most successful F1 engine manufacturers in the modern era of Formula One. Yet after two lean years with an under powered engine, the Austrian outfit has no more patience and expects to be back at the top of the sport.
In reality, despite the hundreds of millions invested, Red Bull Racing are another independent Formula One racing team. Like McLaren, like Williams and all the other iterations of teams who have competed for decades in F1.
In their time both McLaren and Williams have dominated F1, and both have had far longer subsequent periods of time in the wilderness than Red Bull Racing. Neither of these historic F1 teams have won a constructors title since the turn of the millennium. Yet the lack of a ‘factory’ competitive engine has never resulted in either of these teams threatening to quit the sport, and they both have had to suffer the pain of not winning for year after year.
Red Bull’s hope that some brand of the VW group will ride to the rescue in 2017/18 also appears somewhat of a naïve attitude, given the complexity and development time required for F1’s new power units. This has dramatically demonstrated in the trials and tribulations faced by Honda on their return to Formula One.
Why would say Audi join F1 in 2018, when the next potential big change in engine regulations looms in 2020?
The bottom line is that F1 changes the rules every few years to stop the domination of the sport by one team, and whether it had been the new V6 power units or some other trickery from the FIA, Red Bull would never be allowed to keep on dominating the sport.
The Red Bull F1 family is in actuality faced with Hobson’s choice. Take a Ferrari engine or quit F1.
Christian Horner believes the current state of F1 where just two engine manufacturers have competative offerings is damaging. “It’s important for Formula 1 to have competitive engine manufacturers because what we’re rapidly descending upon is two dominant engine suppliers and that ultimately isn’t healthy for F1,” he said.
“With the V8 you had three or four competitive engines that were capable of winning.
“Now you’ve only got two engines that are capable of winning races on merit, and that’s not particularly healthy.”
So for many fans of Formula One, Red Bull’s consistent and repeated complaints about their current plight in the media, appear pointless and not obscure to anyone. Whether these repeated statements of the obvious – are designed to force the powers that be to get guarantees from Ferrari that they will have the exact version of power unit the Red Team put in their own cars – is anyone’s guess.
But Red Bull is where it is today because of choices they made – and in F1 there are no quick solutions for their problem.