After a season handicapped by a poorly performing and unreliable Renault engine, Red Bull fans will be pleased to hear that the future of the Red Bull Formula One racing team is close to being secured.
Eddie Jordan, chief analyst at the BBC, announced the deal would involve Red Bull remaining in F1 as a major sponsor, but with Volkswagen purchasing the Red Bull team and manufacturing their own engine.
“Red Bull and VW have been in on-and-off talks for more than a year and I understand that the fundamentals of a deal for the sale of the team have been agreed.”
However, introducing a new engine to F1 is perhaps the hardest it’s ever been, and Volkswagen is tellingly giving themselves until 2018 to introduce their new power unit. In the meantime, Red Bull would have to secure a deal with one of F1’s other manufacturers — Ferrari, Mercedes or Honda — as Red Bull had already taken steps to end their relationship with Renault.
Mercedes, however, was unwilling to work with Red Bull. Many experts believe the Red Bull chassis to be a close match, though not an equal, for the Mercedes car, and Autosport reports the Mercedes board was not interested in supporting such a strong rival in the championship with their engines.
With Red Bull making it clear that a condition of them remaining a part of F1 is securing a strong engine, Honda is clearly ruled out after a torrid season with Mclaren.
Ferrari had been publicly supportive of the idea of a deal with Red Bull to keep them in the sport, and Autosport confirmed that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz had held “positive and encouraging” talks with the manufacturer about supplying Red Bull before Volkswagen has their new unit ready.
Some fans have been disappointed by the negativity surrounding the Red Bull operation, apparently unable to deal with a couple of bad seasons after years of domination in the sport.
The move will be costly for Red Bull with sponsor Infinity, a close business partner of Renault. Autosport has also confirmed rumors that Red Bull would be releasing them from their contract with Red Bull as a result of the move.
In the long term, VW will need to be successful with their first power unit, or risk losing Red Bull as a team sponsor, given the lack of patience Red Bull management have had with Renault, even after years of dominance. At the time of this writing, there is no word as to which VW brand will enter the sport, leaving open the possibility that fans may see Lambourghini battle Ferrari on the F1 track; although, Audi is the most likely contender given the marketing value of F1 to the brand.
[Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images]