Red Bull to supply Mercedes Formula 1 power unit customers – Mercedes AMG F1 have indeed had a significant influence over the FIA since the introduction of the V6 Turbo hybrid era began in 2014.
This includes not so veiled threats to withdraw from the sport have been numerous usually when Toto Wolff et al have been disapproving of FIA regulation proposals. However, the appears to be a power shift under way.
Firstly, Wolff and Mercedes bullying tactics over ‘refereeing decisions” in Abu Dhabi have clearly cut no mustard with the FIA, despite the Stuttgart owned team threatening to drag the World Motorsports regulating body through the legal mire for most of 2022.
Further, there is a new kid on the block and FIA president. Mohammed Bin Sulayem has reverted to type; the type of no nonsense boss that was Max Moseley or Luca Di Montezemolo, rather than the insipid – try to please everyone and please no one – Jean Todt.
Within hours of Sulayem succeeding to Todt’s throne, he called out Lewis Hamilton for failing to attend the mandatory FIA end of season gala, and stated the Brit must be penalised for breaking the rules.
The nature of this penalty is yet to be revealed. Though Sulayem has stated he has attempted to contact Hamilton several times but without the courtesy of a response.
I put it simply, Mercedes AMG F1 influence looks to be on the wane.
Firstly, Daimler Benz the primary shareholder has sold down its interest in the team to just 30%. The furore Wolff and the team caused over the Race Director’s decisions made in Abu Dhabi has perturbed the global auto manufacturer who merely want to promote a positive image.
The somewhat petulant outbursts and pressure tactics from Wolff have not gone down well in the boardroom in Stuttgart.
TJ13 believes Daimler Benz will sell their remaining 30% during 2022, and insist the new owners change the team name for 2023, dropping the Mercedes Benz brand.
Secondly, Wolff has played a repeated winning hand with the FIA, based on the fact that they are the F1 power unit supplier who supports more customer teams than anyone else. The threat of Mercedes withdrawing from F1 would mean the other suppliers could not – and stated so – fulfil the 10 team grid requirements.
Step up Red Bull.
Having taken control of Honda’s UK based performance engine unit, Red Bull have now become supplier of F1 power units, and in effect the Milton Keynes based team is now a full works F1 outfit.
Sources in the team suggest to TJ13 that for 2023 Red Bull they are prepared to supply power units not only to Alpha Tauri, but to a further 2 customer outfits. This could be extended to a further customer team in 2024.
This collapses the grip Mercedes AMG F1 have on the FIA and the commercial rights holder. One example of this being the recent demands from Wolff for a speedy investigation and report into the sporting decisions made in Abu Dhabi.
The FIA have curtly responded stating that their findings will only be revealed on the first day of practice at the first GP.
This nullifies the Mercedes propaganda that suggested Sir Lewis would only race in 2022 if Michael Massi was sacked. Now he’s forced to decide without any such assurances from the FIA.
Finally, should Lewis Hamilton wish to win another WDC with Mercedes Benz, he will probably be forced to come out of hiding and commit to the 2022 challenge, because beyond that there may well be no more Mercedes Benz F1 team.