Red Bull Racing thought they had an engine deal, but didn’t


It has been the belief for a number of months that Red Bull Racing issued Renault with divorce proceedings whilst having failed to source an engine partner for the F1 2016 season. James Allen suggested the Bulls had “jumped out of the plane with a hope of buying a parachute on the way down.”

Bernie Ecclestone claimed at the 2015 US GP that Red Bull believed it had a deal with Mercedes and then began severing ties with Renault. “In defence of Red Bull, or Christian in particular, the reason they cancelled their agreement with Renault is so they could do the deal they thought they had done with Mercedes.”

Clearly no deal was done.

Niki Lauda claimed he had a meeting in July with Dieter Mateschitz where the matter was discussed, but Mateschitz revealed he had a long standing dislike for Meredes. Lauda said he heard nothing more from the Red Bull boss.

Toto Wolff addressed the matter with Gazzetta dello Sport in August. “If I wear my Mercedes Benz motorsport boss’ hat and think about what is in the best interests of F1, then I have to say it’s (a Red Bull engine supply) an interesting option because it would link us to a brand that has huge appeal among the young and it’s a winning brand. However, speaking as the boss of a rival F1 team, I have to say that it’s not ideal to strengthen one of your main competitors which knows how to make winning racing cars.”

Toto Wolff now reveals, there was another meeting involving himself, Christian Horner and Bernie Ecclestone where specific terms were set out for Red Bull to agree with, before any engine supply could go ahead. As TJ13 revealed at the time, there are global joint ventures underway between Daimler-Benz and Renault, so the first condition for Red Bull was that Renault gave their blessing.

“Unless Renault gave us the go ahead we couldn’t move. It would be in breach of contract, and there is a much bigger picture involving Renault and Mercedes than Formula 1, such as the joint factories in Mexico,” said Wolff.

“The other thing we said is if we supply Red Bull with an engine in Formula 1 there is a possibility of diluting the message around our own success because they could be very successful with our engine”. This was Renault’s complaint during the four triumphant years of WDC’s and WCC’s, so Mercedes sought to protect themselves from a similar fate offering to do joint marketing events where both parties would receive credit.

“That would be fair and square, but in order to accept that we would need to know what kind of marketing activities we could deploy on a worldwide scale with each other. If we were being damaged on the F1 side [beaten on track he means] , how much could we then benefit on the global side? Can we do a car scheme, joint events, joint platforms? Please come up with the person we can talk to” Wolff confirms in the end, “nothing happened.”

So Red Bull didn’t have a deal and the aeroplane analogy goes more like this…

RBR jumped out of the plane, thinking they’d bought a parachute which was strapped to their backs and then discovered on the way down the rucksack was empty.

26 responses to “Red Bull Racing thought they had an engine deal, but didn’t

  1. Or, RedBull jumped out of the plane thinking that because they’d sponsored Felix Baumgardner they knew everything there was to know about aeronautics.

  2. This is the nuts and bolts of all the behind the scenes action leading to RB ending up where they are right now and shows how they do business (and why they’ve tried so hard to obfuscate the fact that they’ve put themselves in their present state and not their PU supplier).

    • You’ve certainly called it. I’ve taken note of all your RBR related posts.

      You pegged RBR way back when…

      I recall the various posts, some I thought we’re a little over zealous. Now it’s abundantly clear the type of operation RBR is and that horrendous business attitude – probably infused by DM – must flavour all their operations globally.

  3. “James Allen suggested the Bulls had “jumped out of the plane with a hope of buying a parachute on the way down.”

    Heard TD mentioned that on the podcast I couldn’t stop laughing.,…😂😂😂

  4. Or more correctly, “RBR jumped out of the plane, thinking they’d bought a parachute which was strapped to their backs, but never checked that it was in order before getting onto the plane, and then discovered on the way down the rucksack was empty.”

  5. The other possibility was that they approached Merc, they had a preliminary ‘OK, let’s do this, but let’s discuss a couple of conditions’, but at the same time, they were also talking to VW. They probably saw that VW was looking good, didn’t bother going back to Merc, then the VW scandal erupted and boom.

      • Unless they already have a power unit in advanced development stages in partnership with red bull and currently housed in building 9.

        Wouldn’t be to hard to imagine VW badging this PU as Lamborghini and instantly take the road car sales competition to the track where lambo would instantly have more recognition than Ferrari and all its history should the lambo unit put RB at the front for a few seasons.

        Lamborghini-Red Bull 2016 – twice the bull! Lol

  6. I do find it difficult to believe a professional multi million pound company would cancel one contract without having signed another. Even just signing a letter of intent would have been better. Surely you negotiate the terms of the new contract before cancelling the existing one?

    The more this goes on the more stupid Red Bull /Torro Rosso look.

    • Well Franz Tost is reported to have said that they’re hoping to complete the deal for their engine supply next season hopefully soon. So it’s Red Bull that might be the ones that ends up looking stupid.

      • That’s because Red Bull is busy to secure engines themselves right now. DM already has said, “Toro Rosso won’t continue without Red Bull continuing.”

        • That’s an interesting question, we all know that Red Bull would have to pay $500m to pull out, do Torro Rosso have a similar clause?

          • Imagine that, one billion currency units to leave the sport out of spite. That’s an expensive brand of spite.

            “F1 Spite… the spite billionaires love best”

            -Cue music-

      • Tost has 0% say in what TR does with it’s PU. DM has final say, so if TR ends up with PU’s next season it’s by the grace of DM. Not sure how that makes RB end up looking stupid, but I’ll let you elaborate.

        There is no competitive advantage in this PU era of having different suppliers so where RB goes so will TR.

        • I’m sure if DM pulled the plug there would be attempts to save both RB and TR so there is some point in Franz talking to Ferrari.

          You’ve also got to ask what the options are. Ferrari have a ‘spare’ supply, Mercedes do not. Ferrari have said Red Bull won’t get 2016 engines so that appears to close that avenue off to them. Honda would be very unlikely to be able to supply two extra teams, Renault may also prefer to concentrate on development at the expense of supplying 3 teams.

          We could well see TR running a different engine from RB next season for those reasons.

          Also, if there is a ‘master plan’ to bring another supplier in then having two different engines gives them twice the data to pass on to that supplier… It also gives a benchmark to whoever Red Bull goes with as the cars are likely to be fairly similar in terms of chassis performance.

          • If DM pulled the plug RB staff will still be employed, just no longer working on F1. At least this is according to DM.

            Not sure but u guess TR would be sold but also good chance DM shutters the team as a spite to F1 – he doesn’t need the cash from a fire sale.

            The talk is the RB has an engine prepared for 2016 – no need to gather data. Also, this myth that fans have about teams gathering data from one engine supplier to use on another engine – that’s just not how it works.

            This era is currently considered and engine era but it’s not.

            We are in the first software era of F1 – this is where the championship is won and lost. Get used to this as we move towards fully electric. You cannot look at a PU and see its software. If you can you should really be asking RB for a million dollar salary right now.

    • this is all a deception so that when RB announces they have their own PU any rule changes invoked between now and then will be kept in place. If the current PU manufactures realized RB had their own… well the rule changes RB is about to ask for wont fly! Chess.

      As faithful TJ13 subscribers we all know about building 9, keep that in mind anytime you read a report about red bull’s PU status.

      A good example, Brundle (amongst others) reporting that DM is very bored with F1 and has put almost zero effort into using his power ($$) to secure engines. This has everyone expecting DM to announce RB is leaving F1 – not doubling down and developing their own PU.

      Well played DM, well played.

  7. It’s an old joke, but so fitting with only a small modification.

    A doctor, Dietrich Mateschitz, a Preist, and a boy scout were on a plane when it started having engine trouble.
    In spite of the best efforts of the pilot the plane started to go down.
    Unfortunetly there were only 3 parachutes remaining.
    The docter grabbed one and said. “I am a docter, I save lives so I deserve to live.” And jumped out.
    Mateschitz then said, ” I am the founder of Red Bull and I am the smartest man in the world, so I deserve to live.” and jumped out.
    The priest looked at the boy and said ” My son I haved lived a long life, and you have a whole life to live, so you take the parachute.”
    The boy scout handed the parachute back to the priest and said “No worries father, the “smartest man in the world” just took off with my backpack.”

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