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,”
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