Red Bull Racing had a pretty ordinary time of it at the Australian Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo lost one of his four engines for the year during practice. Daniil Kvyat lunched a gearbox on the way to the starting grid and didn’t start the race.
Even junior outfit Toro Rosso suffered, with Max Verstappen forced into retirement with engine woes.
After previously having its own way for four years in succession the prospect of a second year with no world title is not pleasing the top brass at Red Bull Racing one little bit. In fact, you could say it’s tantrums all round. And the blame is being laid squarely at the feet of power unit supplier Renault.
“Across the four cars we’ve had two engine failures, one within five laps, and a whole bunch of driveability issues, so it’s not the start that Renault can afford to have,” Horner said.
“I think it masks so many things regarding corner entry, corner exit, degradation, slip control of the tyre,” Horner added. “You’re not able to drive the car properly. So you then start moving your brake balance around to try to compensate, so you are so far away from optimum. You start to lose temperature in brakes, and then the tyres aren’t working as they should. It’s a spiralling effect.”
Meanwhile, there’s conflicting views on the long-term interest in Formula 1 held by Red Bull’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is leading the charge there telling reporters in Melbourne: “We will evaluate the situation again [in the summer] as every year and look into costs and revenues.
“If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit.
“Yes, the danger is there that Mr Mateschitz loses his passion for F1.”
Predictably, and coming back to Renault, it’s the power unit regulations that are the sore point for Marko.
“These power units are the wrong solution for F1, and we would say this even if [Red Bull supplier] Renault were in the lead,” he claimed.
“The technical rules are not understandable, much too complicated, and too expensive.”
However, Cristian Horner denies a Red Bull departure is on the cards and he attempted to hose down rumours that Audi is willing to buy out Red Bull and, crucially, that Mateschitz is willing to sell.
“You’re wide of the mark. There’s been statements from Dietrich to clarify that, It’s a non-issue,” Christian Horner told F1 reporter Adam Cooper.
There’s also talk that Renault might want to have its own factory team again, with Toro Rosso being the most likely match.
And all of this simply because Mercedes AMG has cleared the pack once again. Where was Mercedes when Red Bull was dominating and were they whinging and carrying on like pork chops that it just wasn’t fair?
Dominance in any sport, in particular in Formula 1, is cyclical. If Red Bull is prepared to stick around it has shown it has the capacity to reach the top.
It’s one thing to achieve success once. But coming back to succeed again after losing that dominance, that takes true courage and determination. And that’s how legends like Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have been made.