After being told by Red Bull Racing that he would not be driving for them at the end of November, Scott Speed is suing them for breaking the terms of their contract.
After finishing 30th in points, Speed said he was notified by fax on November 24th that he would not be returning to the team in 2011.
“I’m obviously stupid disappointed that I didn’t even get a phone call, not a conversation, not anything from anyone from Austria,” Speed told Bob Pockrass Wednesday in a phone interview. “They all showed up at Miami. None of them spoke a word to me. I got a fax.”
He also added that he did have a contract for 2011 but would not discuss the terms.
“I can’t describe how upset I am just over the morality of it,” Speed said. “I don’t understand how you can treat people like this. Whatever. I know that’s not how I treat people.”
The 2010 season, which was supposed to be Speed's breakout year, started out great for him and his team. But once teammate Brian Vickers got sick, things started to go downhill.
“When Brian got sick, we were both in the 20s in points just because of luckhonestly, we ran better than that,” Speed said. “We were going to put this driver in [for Vickers], and their old team was trying this [setup], so [we decided], ‘Let’s try this.’ … As a team, we kind of [crapped] the bed, really. There’s no question throughout the year we performed terribly.
“At the end of the day, I was a scapegoat for that, I guess.”
In August, when it was announced that Kasey Kahne would be joining the team in 2010, a lot of people had counted Speed out of Red Bull Racing with Vickers set to return the following year. Speed said there were options laid on the table for him, however.
“They made it pretty clear with four or five races left that their plan was pretty simplethat if Brian doesn’t get better then I’m their guy, but if Brian does get better, the options are open for maybe a third car, maybe Nationwide or something that was the last I heard, was basically I’m waiting there to see if Brian is all right,” Speed said.
In the process of everything, Speed said he understood the decision, but doesn't like how it was done.
“They had the opportunity to get Kasey Kahne, which is a no-brainer,” he said. “I would do the same thing. Then it’s 'OK, do you want Scott Speed or Brian Vickers next year after that?’ Even though I think I’m probably performing at a similar level to Brian, I’d still take Brian over myself even because of his experience level.
“It makes sense what they’re doing. I just think they did it all wrong. They didn’t treat me fairly over the whole deal."
He also adds, "They thought it was OK to kick me to the curb and not try to do absolutely anything for me. They didn’t want to pay me anything. They didn’t want to help me get into any other kind of ride. Nothing. They were, ‘OK, we’re done with you. Thank you for seven-and-a-half years.’
“Honestly, I’m still a little bit shocked over the whole situation.”
It was also announced that, with Kahne coming over, some employees were being laid off to make room for Kenny Francis, crew chief for Kahne, and his own bunch of guys. Speed said that his guys should not be blamed for the bad performance, but rather those at the top of the chain.
“Changes that change the performance of the car are made at the top level,” Speed said. “When John Probst took over [general manager] Jay Frye’s sort of role running the team from a competition side, things changed and stuff got a lot better. … Then shortly after that, with everyone sort of fighting for their job, sort of a little bit working against each other, things got worse again.
“But the cars, during the middle part of the year, were terrible. They were terrible not because of the guys physically working on the cars. That’s not fair to say at all. That’s never the case. There’s three or four guys at the top that are deciding what bodies are going on what cars, what cars are going to run and that’s where the speed is at.”
This past month has not gone well for Speed, whose mother was diagnosed with cancer on the same day that he was released.
“My mom was diagnosed with cancer on the same day [I was released], so it kind of puts life into a little bit more perspective than, ‘Oh my God, I just lost a racing ride,’” Speed said. “It’s terrible, but priorities change a little bit. In any case, it’s not just a case of finding a new ride or a new sponsor.
“I’ve never had a manager my whole career, for example. Red Bull has always told me where to go and what to do. There’s never been a need for a manager, especially somebody trying to find money and a ride. The decision I make for myself and where I go after Red Bull is a huge one. What brand do I associate myself after a seven-and-a-half year relationship with Red Bull? I have a global brand name with my career in Formula One and with what Red Bull has done with my stock-car racing career.”
Speed is not the first driver to be suing someone this offseason; Robby Gordon is suing Extenze, claiming he was wronged when the team put Kevin Conway in his car.