Red Bull Racing, in its current form, has been around since 2005 and has spent almost half the time since then winning championships. After four consecutive years of victory, the sport’s regulation change from V8 engines to turbo V6 powerplants last year seemed to have been too big a shake up for Red Bull to maintain the winning balance it had achieved.
After failing to defend its title and performing even worse in the current season, Red Bull is ready to pack up its garage and call it quits unless help from an unlikely source comes into play.
Speaking to the BBC, former race car driver and current adviser to Red Bull Helmut Marko stated that the team is frustrated with the lack of reliability from the Renault-provided engines since last year’s regulation change. We’re about halfway through the current season, and driver Daniel Riccciardo has already gone through four engines — the maximum number a driver is allowed to use in one season.
“If we don’t have a competitive engine in the near future, then either Audi is coming or we are out,” said Marko, which is an interesting thing to say for several reasons.
First off, Red Bull is contractually obliged to participate in Formula 1 until 2020, so taking its ball and going home isn’t that easy of an option. Red Bull’s deal with Renault concludes in 2016, however, so the team is free to court other suppliers, but why say Audi?
At the moment, the Volkswagen group is going through a strange power shift as VW group chairman Ferdinand Piëch resigned after a move to oust Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn backfired. Piëch long opposed any involvement in Formula 1, but with him gone, VW-owned Audi now has an avenue opened to them.
Again, why Audi specifically? Why not another Volkswagen family company like Lamborghini or Bugatti? Well, despite having Audi boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich straight up denying the brand will enter Formula 1 in 2016, it hasn’t done much to quell the still churning rumor mill.
This is mostly backed by hints that point to Audi’s departure from the World Endurance Championships, a sport the team has dominated for almost 20 years. With Porsche’s return to endurance racing, another Volkswagen-owned brand, Audi may pass the baton to them, seeking out fresher challenges.
Nobody, save for the key players in the sport’s ongoing dramas, knows for sure whats going on, but all it took was one Red Bull adviser’s frustrated outburst to add fuel to already sparked rumors. Until we get any official statements, we’ll see how Red Bull endures the second half of the season and continue connecting the pins on our motorsport conspiracy theory wall charts.