Secret Meeting Yesterday about F1 Future: Red Bull and Liberty Media

It has been reported that the top brass of both companies met on Monday to discuss “how the sport can be improved”. The Milton Keynes Based Red Bull team have previously enjoyed huge F1 success racking up 4 world championships, using their current engine suppliers Renault.

It is no breaking news that since the smaller capacity turbocharged units the Mercedes-AMG interpretation of the new regulations emerged straight out of the blocks with power and reliability from their home grown hybrid developments leaving the rest of the field pleased if they managed to get close enough to the Mercedes gearboxes to suffer from the dirty air.

Helmut Marko is a perfectionist. If his company are involved and there is a Red Bull logo on it, it has to be the leader or they will walk. The brand strategy is simple – forget the drink – if the bulls are on it – it is the best. The success of the brand has depended on it and has helped develop the company into a (reported by Forbes) $8bn empire and the 73rd wealthiest brand in the world (2016)

It is no surprise then that when the bulls are skipping about in the middle of the pack the interest from Marko starts to wain. It is not good for business. Is it a lack of maturity in the sport that one entrants seems to either refuse to accept or fail to notice that history teaches us about the F1 ebb and flow and success that gives most of the top teams dominant seasons, but never for long? “The years teach us what the days will never know”

The thing to remind ourselves here is that RB is not a car company, it makes drinks so most of their success has been achieved by having deep pockets and some good business sense, their valour has always been in their hired help, and that works up to a point, no doubt that the chassis is amazing but they have always depended on an engine supplier. This is not uncommon as we know, but when your entire army depends on other allies fire power then it is best not to upset the artillery section. If you do you better hope you have another lined up to replace it (and treat them well), if not who will want to set themselves up for the same public slating? Turns out no-one.

Since the wave of public discontentment from the team and sometimes, (in my opinion) rudeness about the Renault offering, the Red Bull team have found themselves short of alternative options. Marko said “We were close to getting no engine in 2015,”

redBull_engine_troubles

Image GP24/7

Some say it was because the works teams were afraid of being beaten by their own engines, and some only offered them last year’s stock, if anything. Red Bull certainly took this stance and called it unfair. Now, I live in Milton Keynes, and personally know many people who work there and I can confirm there was panic, low morale and lots of wincing when press statements were either damning against possible solutions any that could be perceived as arrogant. One acquaintance told me:

“we need to build relationships in the paddock community, not break them which will only isolate ourselves further”

Earlier this week Dr Helmut Marko was quoted as publicly stating ( to Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper) that F1’s current

“nonsensical power unit formula” is “wrong for F1”,

and then offered a bold statement, seemingly speaking on behalf of us all.. Explaining

“The power units are an incredible technical achievement that does not matter to the public and puts the driver in the background,”

Marko said the successful car makers like Mercedes and Ferrari are currently in a position to “blackmail” other teams.

Helmut is certainly keen to address the balance of power unit dependency across the teams in moving towards standardised engine stating clearly:

“The rules must be such that Cosworth and Ilmor can successfully and commercially make an engine, so that whoever wants one – whether us or Sauber or Toro Rosso – can buy one.”

But is this because it suits the Red Bull brand or F1 as a whole? He continued to say that this current formula has:

“almost driven McLaren to ruin”.

Helmut sends some advice to Ross Brawn.

“We are assured by Liberty that they are serious. Rossross_brawn Brawn works in this direction, because even a super engineer like him sometimes does not even understand,”

Helmut, Can I just have a quick word

I fully respect your rise to fame and glory, you are indeed an esteemed great enterpriser; your F1 team have risen from insignificance to one of the most foremost teams in F1. Your achievements some great, some extraordinary. BUT. Please understand you were a random card, and by getting things about right from the get-go were able to rise to success almost unhindered for the first few years mainly through teams not taking you too seriously or expecting such innovation, and as a result acquired easily power and influence over drivers, fans and F1 as a whole.

With the money from the Red Bull Brand you found it initially easy to build and sustain a team that has since distinguished you. You have managed to keep people’s minds in suspense and admiration and for years your actions have kept you in such a way that others have never been given time to work against you.

You are the patron of ability and honour of every art of F1, encouraging staff to do the same, all the time offering rewards to anyone who honours the company. You provide celebrations and festivals, honouring with your presence but always maintaining the majesty of your rank.

You have also been respected for never sitting on the fence over matters concerning your dominance, however I fear there may have been a few, but serious mistakes that have crept in on the way. Firstly, mistakenly I suspect, you felt that your alliance with Renault is a relationship where you hold the power. It Isn’t. Secondly, you should of never, during your stratospheric rise to power, EVER have given anyone reason to hate you, or fail to understand the character of troubles that face you. You could have done better in choosing the lesser of all evils. I feel you have failed on these three accounts.

You have (seemingly) spent most of your PR budget attacking Renault. While you enjoyed dominance, I can’t recall too many occasions you publicly shared the victory’s. You gave full credit to Red Bull, the drivers, Adrian, and the car. I would suggest you need to consider a hypothetical question that is: if Mo Farah blames the fact he didn’t win the London Marathon entirely on the Nike shoes he wears then he might find the deal goes sour and other deals might not be so forthcoming in fear of negative brand image damaging share prices.

Personally I hate the single engine formula, A1GP tried that, boring and now dead, Is it missed? I have never seen any evidence that it is. I would suggest you do indeed start making relationships and not destroying them. You are on the verge of being a classic team and it would be a shame if you walked away because your focus is more focused on brand strategy and not the sport. You might find that at this stage you do not have enough influence on the sport to change the rules, but please think carefully when you start offering F1 legends advice or informing Carey what is or isn’t important to the public.

Just my opinion: SteveBarbyF1

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26 responses to “Secret Meeting Yesterday about F1 Future: Red Bull and Liberty Media

  1. That was a complete load of garbage. Renault failed massively and proved that they are a second rate engine builder. When you are paying millions for engines that are currently third best out of four what do you expect? As for when Red Bull were winning WC’s the cars were badged Red Bull Infiniti because that was the deal that Ghosn wanted and got. Furthermore Renault publicity was the responsibility of Renault and they should not have expected their ciustomer to do it for them.Mercedes are in the press every day after the GP’s !!!!

    • Er, one of the most successful engine makers in F1 history deserve better than the lot they received from RB. The brand have been a disgrace frankly.

  2. Mateschitz meeting with Liberty’s Malone certainly looks more like an act of desperation than a discussion on “how the sport can be improved”. It’s clear that as Renault build up their own team Red Bull have less and less interest to them, and Red Bull also know history, seeing what happened twice to Williams when they were at the top and then losing engine deals first to Honda and then Renault.

    The simple fact is that the new engine formula for 2021 will be developed largely by Ferrari, Renault, M-B and Honda if they are still around. Red Bull will be essentially on the outside looking in. Reports suggest the new engines will be simpler but not by much. Hybrids with maybe twin turbo’s with the MGU-H dropped. A return to the atmo’s seems unlikely. These new engines are still going to be expensive to develop. Gone are the days when Ford could give Cosworth $100,000 and get an F1 engine developed. And its questionable how many other car manufacturers or a company like a Cosworth want to get involved in F1 engine development after seeing the damage Honda have done to their brand.

    As I said the meeting looked more like an act of desperation.

  3. For me, the quick word could’ve been left out. It got me to wonder about those “friends” – are they real? Or are you an (ex?) employee yourself?
    Then again, I think employees know that at the end of the day, it’s about mateschitz. He is the rich, spoilt brat who calls the shots.

    No hard feelings – I like how all these volunteers try to get the site back on track

  4. “Helmut Marko is a perfectionist. If his company are involved and there is a Red Bull logo on it, it has to be the leader or they will walk”

    I think you mean Mateschitz.

  5. sorry Man, this would have been nice write work if not for that pile of rubbish shoveled towards Dr. Helmet

      • i mean Dr. Helmet ain’t the saint, but he knows the stuff. whatever he says and his sayings consequences is better known to him as the Dr. he has in jurisprudence. and yes current Renault needs a bit of kick. and as for past success with RB Renault are themselves to blame via branding pus as Infinity. what did You expect? – that RedBull will yell like you know our infinity’s are actually renaults?

  6. Some harsh comments guys..IMHO the author has a valid point. Red bull have a real habit in other sports of leaving when things don’t go their way.
    What was pointed out is nothing new but it’s was still a fair read.
    I for one really can’t see Ferrari or Mercedes letting a single engine formula even getting a voice.
    Maybe a simplified engine is the way forward as Cosworth did show an interest at the beginning of this folly. Prodrive was another company splashed around and Dave Richards has past history with this..maybe Aston could make a showing but I highly doubt this scenario.
    No engine manufacturers want or need bad press..take Honda, their bad form was again questioned in the Indy500..Honda fails Alonso again…was the headline the next day ,will Audi/vw,Nissan, Toyota pump in a Billion £ + into a system which has no commercial value..not a damn chance and that is what’s wrong.
    Disc brakes, ABS, active suspension, traction control and super strong materials have all been used and developed in F1..what have the modern cars sent back to the roads in the last few years?..answers on a postcard pls..
    Oddball rant over😎

    • “Disc brakes, ABS, active suspension, traction control and super strong materials have all been used and developed in F1”

      Actually most of it came from the aerospace industry.

      • Cav,yes they came from aerospace but have all been used and developed into road usable materials from racing. My point being that without racing development these road safety features would never have been used. Even safety has a thanking part from our racing monsters.

  7. Red Bull won’t leave. When you get 100k fans to watch VER do demo laps in the Netherlands you know they have a star on their hands and the brand really only needs that. Renault is doing better but still behind and probably will be until the formula changes again. At least their woes aren’t Honda’s.

  8. Another question to be answered is – will Liberty Media actually own the commercial rights of F1 in 3 or 4 years? I for one have my doubts. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the really big players like Ferrari / Fiat, Renault / Nissan, M-B and maybe Honda all start buying FOM stock, which is a public company, with the intent to control it. The smaller teams can also be involved. Then an honest discussion with the teams and the FIA can start about where F! goes without clowns like Malone and Carey acting as intermediaries. And the teams get to keep all the loot and not just 50% of it.

  9. I don’t much like him but I think the good doctor is right. F1 needs independent engines suppliers. When the Cosworth DFV was a competitive engine anyone could buy or rent one. Hesketh did so and won a race. This year no one will wil a race outside the Mercedes or Ferrari works teams unless unusual circumstances prevail. Red Bull will not win in a straight fight this year. I have said before that the rules should change so that anyone who makes the engine for their own car would NOT be allowed to supply other teams. That way F1 has to have independant engine suppliers to survive. If the independants cannot build a cost effective engine then F1 is terminally broken and Ross Brawn knows this. It is largely thanks to two car companies and the FIA who all wanted the PU scenario. Having got to the top Red bull are not going to settle for mediocrity for very long. They are not going to pull out if they can win a few races but I think they will pull out if they have no hope. They spend money in other areas. Rally cars, Air Races, high diving, power boats and soap box races to name just a few. The are happy to compete but they want to compeate at the top. If they can get better value elsewhere than running a midfield F1 team why would they cary on to make up the numbers in Liberty’s freak show.

  10. Great commentary, my recollection of their winning streak was “we managed to win in spite of this inferior engine”.
    I thought for sure Red Bull Racing was purposefully engineering their exit from the sport, or Ilmor already had a running PU! They burned pretty much every bridge & then dropped a few bombs for good measure (in case there was someone in the F1 world that still stood by them).
    The Ilmor theory seemed far fetched, we would’ve heard something in the rumour mill, so surely they were leaving? Then the “aggressive grovelling” began, thinking they would somehow intimidate their way into an engine agreement with Merc or Ferrari. Honestly, I am still incredulous that somehow they got a deal with Renault. It is not the sweetheart deal they had in the past where they actually made money (from articles I read back then) after all the associated sponsorship monies were accounted for, but they had a PU – amazing!

  11. The moment Mercedes decides to leave as a manufacturer, only Ferrari has the power to dominate in this formula. And I have heard from three sources that that is what is likely to happen by 2019. It is even doubtful that Honda is still here next year. McLaren is very near to dumping them and without McLaren as a Honda partner, Sauber does not have a gearbox and everything that is attached to it.

  12. Commendable for the strength and passion with which you’ve addressed this topic. Can’t say we agree entirely, but it’s no bad idea to question RB’s political performance in recent years.

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