There’s an old fable about a boy in a European village who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock. When a real life wolf actually attacks the boy’s flock of sheep, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf.
There are those in the paddock who are adamant Red Bull are crying Wolf with their threats to leave Formula One, but there is also growing feeling that whilst Mateschitz may fulfil his threats – who cares?
Speaking on a Sky Sports #AskCrofty special at the weekend, Monisha Kaltenborn called on the former world champions to cease from their public complaints. Sauber of course were the team with whom Red Bull had their first F1 relationship as Kaltenborn explains.
“We have had a long history with them because we got them into the sport and had 10 years cooperation,” she said. “But if you look at the last few years, they have really been getting away with so much which is not in agreement with the others, to answer the question, I think they have to live with what they get now. We’ve done that for so many years so why can’t they now?”
Monisha concludes, “They have changed a lot, maybe success has made them change that much.”
Of course the spectre of a diminished grid for 2016 is the fear of most F1 fans, and the loss of Red Bull and Toro Rosso would see just 18 cars start the first race in Melbourne. Yet Toto Wolff is unconcerned about the Red Bull threat of imminent departure. “We have crunched the numbers and I wouldn’t want to quote them officially, but all the teams were asked to look at the numbers a while ago and it is all pretty similar, so financially viable.”
“If it were the case some high-level people in Red Bull decided to pull out, a contingency plan would be to have three cars, so I don’t see a scenario of having 18 cars being realistic.
Pat Symonds is philosophical about the Red Bull hokey cokey. “It is a difficult situation for them and maybe they haven’t handled it was well as they might have done and I’m sure that is what is antagonising some fans. I remember my father used to say ‘when you lose say nothing and when you win say even less’ and maybe that is a motto we should all abide by.”
Even Bernie Ecclestone’s patience appears to be wearing thin with the fizzy drinks magnate. He tells the Independent Red Bull will face legal action if the quit Formula One. “Red Bull would stand up in court and say: ‘Yes, we have a commitment, we do, but we haven’t got an engine. My argument would be: ‘You signed the contract to compete.
“You should have made sure when you signed the contract that you had an engine. Your team was supposed to do this.'”
Well Red Bull have found themselves in the same position as many a customer team before them – without a winning engine. There is now just over a week before the self-imposed deadline set by Mateschitz to organise a competitive engine for 2016. The big question is – what will he decide?
On offer this weekend is the long awaited in season ‘upgrade’ engine from Renault. Autosport report, “The Renault updates are focused on the internal combustion engine (ICE), with some changes made to the turbo, all of which form part of the French manufacturer’s preparations for 2016. It is understood the Austin update has been validated, having completed a full cycle on the dyno to sign it off for reliability”.
Whilst having 12 tokens available, it is believed Renault have used just 9. So will the Red Bull management take this new power unit to see whether its capabilities can entice Mateschitz to stay in F1? If Red Bull do take these engines, the drivers will suffer grid penalties having already exceeded their engine allowance for the year.