5 Reasons Why Red Bull Will Not Quit Formula 1

Oliver Harden@@OllieHardenFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2015

5 Reasons Why Red Bull Will Not Quit Formula 1

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    Little more than 18 months after sealing their fourth consecutive world championship, could Red Bull be ready to walk away from Formula One?

    That was arguably the biggest talking point at the end of the first race of the year in Australia—where one of the team's cars failed to even start and the other trundled its way to a distant sixth place—with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko quoted by Autosport's Gerhard Kuntschik and Glenn Freeman as stating: "We will evaluate the situation [in the summer] as every year and look into costs and revenues.

    "If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit.

    On the back of Marko's comments, F1 journalist Adam Cooper claimed the Austrian company may be preparing their exit a decade after arriving on the grid with a team of their own.

    According to Cooper, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz was "frustrated by the downturn in form" his team suffered last year, while the outfit's fragmented relationship with engine supplier Renault is hardly helping matters—and it remains unclear just which manufacturer would supply the team's power units if the two parties split.

    Cooper, via his personal blog, writes that "sources suggest" Stefano Domenicali, the former Ferrari team principal, has "backed a plan" for German manufacturer Audi to launch a takeover of Red Bull and create their own operation.

    Admittedly, with Red Bull's glory days seemingly behind them, the plan is certainly plausible—but will it actually happen? 

    Here are five reasons why Red Bull will not quit F1.

More Steps Will Be Taken to Slow Down Mercedes

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    Among the most curious statements to emerge from the Red Bull camp in the aftermath of the Australian Grand Prix was one from team principal Christian Horner, who bemoaned the lack of steps being made to slow down the all-conquering Mercedes team.

    Horner claimed Red Bull were often forced to adapt to several rule changes—introduced to cut the team's advantage over the opposition—throughout their spell of dominance between 2010 and 2013, telling Autosport's Edd Straw: "At any point in time that we did show a bit of form, the rules changed and we had to adapt to that.

    "We had to adapt from fuelling to no fuelling, bodywork changes, double diffuser, no double diffuser, blown diffuser, engine mapping changes mid-season... you name it."

    In their short time at the top of F1, however, Mercedes have already had to contend with regulation changes designed to bring the Silver Arrows closer to the chasing pack.

    Last year's mid-season ban on Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension came at a time when, according to Autosport's Jonathan Noble, Mercedes were "believed to run the most complicated system."

    Meanwhile, this year's rule change that allows each engine manufacturer to develop their power units during the season was no doubt aimed at cutting the performance gap between the Silver Arrows and Ferrari, Renault and newcomers Honda.

    The longer Mercedes remain in front, the more the FIA will try to pull the world champions back, which should give the likes of Red Bull a better chance of returning to winning ways.

Quit Threats Don't Fool Anyone

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    Want to be a big team in Formula One? All you need to do is take pole positions, win races, claim championships and issue the occasional quit threat.

    Threatening to walk away and leave it all behind is a tried-and-tested political weapon used by the major outfits when things don't work in their favour—one that has, over the years, been exhausted by Ferrari.

    The Italian team's most recent warning of any note came in 2009, when a proposed £40 million budget cap resulted in the toys being tossed out of the pram.

    "If the regulations for 2010 will not change, then Ferrari does not intend to enter cars in the next Formula 1 world championship," read a team statement, per BBC Sport.

    Six years later, Ferrari are still on the grid, still the only team to compete in every single season of grand prix racing and a budget cap has yet to be introduced.

    Red Bull's quit threat, like Ferrari's, could merely be an example of the team utilising their political power to force the authorities into working in their favour.

    At the sharp end of the grid, quit threats are part of the game, a ploy that could result in the FIA sitting up and taking notice. Just don't expect us to take it seriously.

The Future's Bright

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    In Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen, Red Bull's junior scheme has produced the most talented pool of youngsters in its entire history.

    Ricciardo, a three-time grand prix winner in 2014, is not only among the leading drivers on the grid, but is as fashionable an ambassador as Red Bull could have ever hoped to produce.

    Meanwhile, Kvyat and Verstappen in particular are mature beyond their years, operating with the steeliness that has defined the most successful graduates of the Red Bull Junior Team, including four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

    Red Bull have poured countless funds, resources and hours into guiding these kids through the junior categories to the point where, today, all of them are now established Formula One drivers who could go on to great things.

    So why would the company even contemplate missing out on that?

    Developing a group of gifted drivers only then to hand them over for, say, Audi to reap the rewards would be the modern-day equivalent of Honda building a championship-winning car throughout 2008 only then to withdraw from F1 and let Brawn GP take the spoils with it in '09.

    The PR risks of letting that happen are too great, especially when Ricciardo, Kvyat, Sainz and Verstappen could become Formula One's answer to Manchester United's class of '92.

Austrian GP Commitment

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    The Austrian Grand Prix was among the most popular events of the 2014 season and simply wouldn't have been possible without Red Bull.

    The Spielberg circuit, previously known as the A1 Ring, had tumbled off the Formula One calendar by the time Dietrich Mateschitz, the Red Bull boss, purchased the venue in 2004, and it seemed unlikely to ever return.

    But since reopening as the Red Bull Ring in 2011, the track has had a new lease of life, a rarity in the modern era when classic European venues are falling by the wayside—see Germany's failure to host a GP this season—as F1 broadens its horizons in new markets.

    Should Red Bull choose to walk away from F1, the presence of their track—which features a giant Red Bull sculptureon the calendar would almost certainly come under pressure, potentially leaving future schedules with just six races in Europe.

    Having gone to the effort of not only reviving the venue but attracting the pinnacle of motorsport to race at his track, you suspect Mateschitz's idea of heaven is seeing a Red Bull-backed driver, behind the wheel of a Red Bull-branded car, winning at a Red Bull-owned circuit in Red Bull's home country.

    It's difficult to imagine him pulling the plug before that dream becomes a reality.

Contracted Until 2020

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    "Red Bull has committed to the future of Formula One until at least 2020. We have signed up to the new Concorde Agreement."

    That was what Christian Horner declared in November 2013, per the Guardian's Paul Weaver, when the dust was settling on Red Bull Racing's fourth title triumph in four years, when his team were in the midst of their nine-race winning streak and way ahead at the front of the field.

    That it is only now, after the Red Bull's horrendous start to what could be a difficult season, that quitting the sport has suddenly become a very real option is significant—the biggest indication that the company is currently dealing in empty threats.

    F1 journalist Jonathan Noble noted on Twitter that Toyota withdrew at the end of 2009 "just a few weeks" after signing the Concorde Agreement, which was supposed to tie the Japanese manufacturer to F1 until 2012. However, ESPN F1 claimed that it would be "extremely costly" for Red Bull if they failed to satisfy the contract.

    Red Bull may be flirting with the idea of fleeing Formula One, but they appear to be locked in.


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