Has Red Bull planned to leave F1 all this time?

Thu, 7 May 2015, 02:41

Luca di Montezemolo has recently provided his thoughts on Ferrari’s success. Most see this as a resurgent Italian marque, an awoken sleeping giant, but not Mr Montezemolo. He recently explained that Ferrari’s success was not a product of their revival, but more related to the failure of their rivals. The former president explains that “Williams has not improved and Red Bull has imploded…and McLaren is in crisis…’ The most interesting part of what he says though relates to the owner of the Red Bull team, Dietrich Mateschitz, as he expands on why he thinks the former champions have ‘imploded.’

Allegedly Di Montezemolo has a mutual friend with Mateschitz who has informed the former Ferrari boss that Mateschitz is thinking of selling the team: he has been directly quoted to say that the plan is to ‘convince Audi to enter or I’m leaving.’ Supposedly then this is why Di Montezemolo thinks the team is imploding, the owner simply does not want it anymore – it is fair to presume then that there is little care of its success.

This leads us to the primary subject of this article, another theory of mine if you care to read on. I was under the impression last year that Red Bull were almost winding down their time in Formula 1, particularly after learning of Adrian Newey stepping back. I did not take Christian Horner’s comments after the 2015 Australian GP as a knee-jerk reaction because of the lack of competitiveness, but believed these were hints of a planned exit from the sport. This recent quote by Di Montezemolo (or a quote of him quoting a ‘mutual friend’) seems to provide slight credence to this theory.

When Red Bull first entered F1, people did not take the team seriously, it was an energy drink company, their place in the pinnacle of motorsport was questionable at the very least. I personally thought it was just a huge marketing ploy, to get motor enthusiasts to recognise the brand and then they would be gone. However, this ‘mere’ energy drink company went on to win four world championships and became a force to be reckoned with. I now recognise Red Bull as a serious competitor and – with their facilities – would expect them to bounce back soon.

The question is however, do they want to bounce back, do they want to be a force again, or is the job done? I am inclined to think that Red Bull will not be in the sport for much longer under the current guise. They have marketed the brand extremely well over the Sebastien Vettel era and it is now time to move on. There were recent rumours that Bernie Ecclestone had paid the team a substantial sum to stay until 2020. If true and Mateschitz still wants to leave, he must find another team to replace his. This would explain the need to convince Audi to enter the sport in which case Red Bull are not likely to be in breach of their contract with Ecclestone: a win – win situation as they get a cash boost and then are free to leave. I think it won’t be long until we find out…

Amir Hussain

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