May 11 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has added even more fuel to the ever-growing ‘Audi-to-F1’ speculation.
Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and F1 legend Gerhard Berger fuelled the rumours last week, suggesting Dietrich Mateschitz is pushing hard for the Volkswagen-owned marque to power or even buy his struggling team Red Bull.
Recently, arguably the biggest obstacle to VW’s involvement was removed when chairman Ferdinand Piech – no fan of F1 supremo Ecclestone – was ousted.
What followed was Audi chairman Rupert Stadler admitting that the Ingolstadt-based marque, already with Stefano Domenicali on the books, is “looking at” an F1 foray.
When asked about the Volkswagen Group, Ecclestone has now told the Austrian news agency APA: “It would be great if they came in” to F1.
Should a VW brand like Audi enter F1, it might end all the speculation about Red Bull – currently struggling with Renault power – quitting the sport.
“They (Red Bull) won’t leave,” Ecclestone said. “I want to avoid that.”
The 84-year-old also said he understands Red Bull’s frustration with the current ‘power unit’ rules.
“I can understand that and I’m not happy about it either,” said Ecclestone.
But as for whether a full or part-sale to Volkswagen is the solution for Red Bull, he answered: “I don’t know that — you would have to ask them.”
Ecclestone did, however, urge Red Bull not to over-analyse its struggle to sell as many tickets for its forthcoming Austrian grand prix this year.
Pointing to the F1 rules crisis, Dr Helmut Marko had revealed in Barcelona that ticket sales for the late June race at the Red Bull Ring are down on 2014.
“In the second year that is quite normal,” Ecclestone insisted. “In the first year, when something is new, it is always easier.”