Despite growth in other series of motorsport, the Red Bull F1 team has struggled this year; their best finish has been a mere sixth place. The team has fallen from dominance on the track several years ago, to being the only team on the grid who could sometimes challenge Mercedes last year, to now being at the back.
Of course, there are many who would blame the woes of the once-winning team on their engine supplier- Renault. After a series of mishaps, which ranged from small parts failures to what have been described by Red Bull as graver issues, the two parties ignited a public war of words.
Though the smoke may now have cleared from the relationship between Renault and Red Bull, it seems clear that the team will be shopping elsewhere for next season’s engine. Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateshitz was quoted as saying,
“If we don’t have a competitive engine in the near future, then either Audi is coming or we are out,”
Though he also went on to say that there had been no formal conversations yet, the prospect of the VW Group/Audi entering Formula 1 is one that has been the subject of much speculation lately. Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone called Red Bull’s bluff about leaving, but did say he was optimistic about the entry of VW,
“They [Red Bull] won’t leave. We want to avoid that,”
“I can understand that [engine troubles], and I’m not happy about it either.”
“It would be great if they [VW] came in.”
In terms of outside perspectives, recently ousted Ferrari Chairman Luca Di Motezemolo took to commenting on the state of affairs of Formula 1, saying,
“Williams has not improved and Red Bull has imploded – I know that Mateschitz is thinking of selling – ‘I either convince Audi to enter or I’m leaving,’ a mutual friend has told me – and McLaren is in crisis…”
Indeed, McLaren is now in a “crisis” with Jenson Button himself even admitting that the team will likely not score a single point this year. Fernando Alonso retired early from last weekend’s race in Spain due to a brake failure, with a McLaren official citing,
“The brake problem that ended Fernando’s race was caused by a stray visor tear-off strip that had become lodged in, and was thereby obstructing cooling air-flow through, a rear brake duct,”
A recent technical controversy has also shaken the sport, with some teams attempting to regulate fuel pressure below the mandated 90 kg/h. Apparently, certain teams were allowing fuel to bypass the fuel pressure meter outside the main fuel system to collect in a balloon type apparatus, in order to deployed all at once to the engine during more critical periods. Post-race inspections were conducted after the Spanish Grad Prix. One team insider commented,
“The way the FIA can keep track of that is looking at the pressure in the system. If you were to do that, if you had a big ‘balloon’ on the other side and you dumped it out, the pressure would go down.”
Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari were all found to be within regulations.