Austin is D-Day for Red Bull


Formula One has for weeks been dominated by the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from Milton Keynes who insist they must have a ‘competitive engine for 2016’. Bernie did his best to assist them in Sochi with his impression of a UN diplomat as he shuttled up and down the paddock desperately trying to persuade Mercedes and Ferrari to relent.

Dieter Mateschitz – the glorious bull ringmaster, has stated it is HE “he who giveth” and will be HE who taketh away” his two F1 teams at the end of October unless he gets what he wants. Despite the implied threat to their livelihoods, the Red Bull employees continue to assemble for their daily pre-work worship muttering, “Blessed be the name of Mateschitz,” and drinking from the Holy Cup of Taurine.

The Austrian fizzy drinks emperor is through an interesting character and TJ13 has previously reported those who have worked closely with him believe he sees himself as some kind of re-incarnation of the great Styrian moderniser, Archduke Johann.

The archduke was a benefactor to the Styrian region of Austria and such was his love of area he chose to daily wear the Upper Styrian frock coat with its green fringe.  Johann studied the land and the people intensively and believed he could therefore make significant contributions to development – primarily to that of the rural population.

In 1811, he laid the foundation for the Joanneum in Graz, the precursor to the Technical University. He founded the Styrian State Library, the State Archive, the savings bank, a mutual fire insurance institution, the Landesoberrealschule (State Upper Secondary School) and the Historical Association.

Yet he was not just a rich benefactor. During the famine of 1816/17, he personally distributed potatoes and also made sure that they were planted for the following season. He introduced farmers to new plants, seeds and varieties. He propagated new methods of livestock breeding and of orchard and crop plantation.

He also bought land and property in the region, most famously Stainz Castle, where two exhibitions to his life are currently on display. Further, he developed the infrastructure of Styria, and was a great patron of the railway. For a long time, the line between Mürzzuschlag and Graz was known as the “Erzherzog Johann Bahn” (“Archduke Johann Train”).

In Archduke Johann style, Dieter Mateschitz has refurbished the famous Styrian ‘A’ ring and was fundamental to the return of F1 racing to Austria. However, more recently he has been on something of a shopping spree in Upper Styria, where he already owns numerous hotels and grounds adjacent to the Red Bull Ring.

In 2014, Mateschitz purchased almost all the property owned by the HMZ private foundation of the late industrialist Helmut Zoidl. This includes the grand, though past its former glory, Seehotel am Grundisee whose 2,000 hectares of grounds see the property sit adjacent to head of the lake Grundisee

Mateschitz is to invest tens of millions into his new project which will develop the nearby castle Gabelhofen Fohnsdorf . It was here during the years of the A1 ring where many of the F1 drivers from yesteryear were hosted for the GP weekend. This development will become a haven of rest for the current crop of drivers, away from the grime and toil of the race track and garages littered with oily rags.

So Dieter believes himself to be perfectly reasonable having done all this for Formula One and his people in Styria to be afforded the best F1 engine his money can buy. Yet despite Bernie’s best diplomatic efforts in the Sochi paddock, the standoff between Red Bull and the other engine manufacturers remains as resolute as that between Israel and Palestine. So the leader of the Bulls is now faced with Hobson’s choice.

Thomas Hobson was a livery stable owner in Cambridge, England during the middle ages, and he famously offered a customer the choice of taking the horse in the stall nearest the door or taking none at all. In true Murica-land copycat fashion, they also have a hero who demonstrated more recently the nature of Hobson’s choice. Henry Ford told his customers, “You may pick any colour, so long as it is black”

‘You can have any engine you like for 2016 – Dieter, so long as it’s a Renault’ – was Bernie’s Russian conclusion.

To this end, Renault themselves have stepped up to the plate in what some may see as an attempt to remind their former lover of their previous joint conquests. After months of testing, Renault’s 2015 engine is good to go. 11 of their 12 tokens for this year have been deployed and it is there on a plinth for Dieter and his men to marvel at.

The French engine spokesman, Remi Taffin, has revealed the new design of the upgraded power unit has focused around the elements associated with the internal combustion engine elements.

“The principal changes involve the internals of the ICE to give improved power and efficiency,” he said. “We know that introducing the new PU will incur a grid penalty so the decision to use will be made in full consultation with the teams.

“At this point of the season obviously points are crucial so if circumstances allow then we will use [it] on track.”

The reality is that Red Bull’s fate in the constructor’s championship for 2015 is sealed. They are 71 points behind Williams, who ran well finishing 4ht and 5th in the US GP last year. So Red Bull’s current fourth place looks to be as high as they can achieve.

Force are 57 points behind the Bull’s, and whilst confident following Checo’s podium finish last time out in Russia it still looks a bridge too far for the Silverstone outfit to catch Red Bull. Regardless, for Red Bull whether they finish fourth or fifth in the 2015 constructors table is unimportant in comparison with the decisions looming large for 2016. And the clock is seconds away from midnight.

Given that Renault are Red Bull’s only engine option for 2016, If Mateschitz has any intention of remaining in Formula One, he will surely want to see the progress the French manufacturer has made with their power unit.

So despite the grid penalties and the challenge of Force India, Red Bull running in Austin with the engines they used for the Russian GP, will soon be followed by their pit wall monitor displaying, ‘Formula One – Game Over’.

The question for Dieter Mateschitz is – What would Archduke Johann do?

19 responses to “Austin is D-Day for Red Bull

  1. If it will depend on how good the Renault update turns out to be, the decision could be postponed for another week if the weather follows the predictions. I don’t think having a wet Friday and Saturday will give them enough to make a decision just yet.

  2. Loved the history lesson and sight-seeing tour, Your Honor! Now, about Hank Ford, as I understand it, he used black because it was the only color of paint that would dry on his assembly line before the car rolled out the door.

  3. The question for Dieter Mateschitz is will he, after being publicly so vocal about his expectations of his partners, be able to accept being forced to continue with the partner that he publicly told that their efforts were not enough? And better yet if the rumor that Renault will only accept a continuation of the Red Bull partnership after Red Bull has publicly apologized is true will that be an acceptable condition for Dieter?

    I’m still convinced that Red Bull is going to leave. The only way a sponsor owning a team can say he’s doing smart business is if the investment matches the amount of coverage. In 2014 and 2015 it clearly doesn’t and with a customer engine 2016 will not have that either. So Red Bull either has to scale down or leave. Red Bull scaling down defeats the purpose of Toro Rosso and it is an indirect admission of defeat and Red Bull being forced to play the lackey of Renault, I doubt that is an acceptable solution so Red Bull leaving F1 is in my view still the most likely outcome

      • I’m sure that if Red Bull wants to stay in F1 that is one thing that has to happen, the problem is I don’t believe Dieter is willing to eat that kind of pie 😉 and that’s one important reason why I have the opinion that Red Bull is going to leave

    • It’s a huge problem when ego comes into play. What I would do is this. Withdraw the Red Bull team but leave Toro Rosso to play along. Then I’d look for another big manufacturer to see if they’d be willing to come in, in 3-4 years’ time. Would then use the TR time for a Red Bull reincarnation. If that failed, I would just sell the TR team.

      • By imagining what I would do if I were in the shoes of Dieter (and using past decisions as input) I’ve come to the conclusion that Dieter has had enough of where F1 is and how his team is treated. He probably likes the 2017 rules but especially now that a VW partnership is out of the question it is simply too late for him to wait. He’s been a sponsor since the late 90’s and a team owner for more than 10 years and in that period he has invested a lot of money in the sport. He’s set up a junior team and has a demonstration team that is ready to fly to wherever Bernie needs a F1 demonstration. And on top of that he’s one of the few team owners who’s not afraid to spend some money to advertise for the next race. Okay he’s mostly managed to do that with no financial loss but it can’t be denied that he was probably the only one who was always ready to invest if needed. I have a feeling that the way Red Bull has acted during their winning days was also related to this feeling of entitlement that Dieter had adopted over the many years of being involved in F1. And I think this feeling of entitlement is also the source of the Renault complaints and the threats to leave the sport. It would have been nice if he had kept that feeling of entitlement to himself and maybe Bernie because that would have made his position right now a lot stronger.

        The way Red Bull has acted in public has removed any feeling of sympathy that fans might have had for Red Bull but nevertheless it would be nice if someone actually tries to find out how Red Bull’s investment in F1 stacks up to what the other teams have been doing during the same period. Is Dieter right to feel entitled to a better treatment by the F1 community?

        • what would you do if you had the best chassis in the field with the worst engine? what would you do when your engine partner spend ZERO tokens for like 15 races. what would you do if your engine partner shared absolutly no road map on the development process, when and where tokens would be spent, etc, etc.?

          to be honest, i dont know 1 fan on this website that would have acted in a manner ABOVE red bull given these circumstances. Half the commentators here start crying just because gravel traps get filled in.

          if you cry over gravel traps, track limits, etc, you couldnt handle even 5% of what red bull has had to deal with.

          • I believe Merc might believe they have the best chassis, after all they did win Monaco – a chassis track

          • and they lost singapore, the quintessential chassis track.

            either way, red bull have never been able to refine their chassis because they have no power.

            so if thats the chassis red bull has without power, well, use your imagination.

  4. I seem to remember that McLaren had a deal with Honda that Honda would only supply engines to McLaren. Does anyone know how long that restriction is in place? Assuming, and its a BIG assumption, that Honda resolve their power problems, maybe Red Bull and Torro Rosso can find an engine there. It would certainly benefit Honda to be supplying more than one team.

    • MAC has a lock down as works team and exclusive rights to Honda for the 1st two years (meaning 2016). someone correct me if im wrong as i do believe i heard an update to those provisions at some point last year.

      • Two issues here.

        I can’t see McLaren wanting to be shown up by another team taking the same engine and beating them. The point of ‘taking the pain’ was that when Honda came good they’d be in the pound seats.

        Secondly, the Honda is crap at the moment. They’d be better off with Renault next season and possibly in 2017.

        I’m not sure Honda would benefit much from having a second team. Could they even built 30-40 engines over a season they’d need to supply two teams? The failures they are getting give them enough data to be working on for now…

        • Red Bull would be better off cutting a hole in the floor and Flintstoning it than taking a Honda.
          Think on this “Honda B-Spec”.
          If that doesn’t make you shudder/laugh….

  5. Heavy rain forecast for Austin will put paid to Renault’s plans for testing the new engine, and the Red Bullies will probably not have to choose whetehr to use the new engine..
    Fans are advised to take precautions against possible lightning strikes (don’t bring umbrellas and take shelter in cars).

    • EDIT: “Fans are advised to take precautions against possible lightning strikes (don’t bring umbrellas BUT INSTEAD TO take shelter in cars).

      • I don’t think so, both the RB11 and STR10 do well in the rain and could have a high starting position after a wet qualifying. The changes both teams will gain a lot with the improved engines in starting positions at the Mexico GP are not that big because they still will be down on power.

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