Formula 1

Red Bull engine limbo vindicates McLaren-Honda partnership

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There are many opinions flying as to who is to blame for the current uncertainty over Red Bull's future in F1.

On the one hand the men at the top of the Red Bull hierarchy, Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz, really created their own paralysis with the derogatory remarks aimed at engine supplier Renault, forcing a divorce that they thought would enable them to move forward again.

Then you have Renault themselves who have fallen way short of expectations in the new hybrid era that in many ways they were responsible for. And, finally, the expected return of a full works team in 2016, seemingly by buying back the current Lotus team, would end the working partnership with Red Bull.


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But the response of rival engine makers Ferrari and Mercedes has been such that they too are to an extent responsible for F1 potentially losing its biggest team of this decade.

Works team parity proving big issue

The demand by Red Bull is simple, they would like an engine that is the same specification as the one that goes into the back of the works team because, after all, that's what every team that buys engines from suppliers would expect.

Well it seems that isn't the case because the three teams who Mercedes supply, Williams, Lotus and Force India won't get their hands on the upgraded engine the works team put into the back of their cars from the Italian Grand Prix, while Sauber are also negotiating as to when they can receive the upgraded engine by Ferrari introduced at Monza.

Manor Marussia currently use 2014-spec Ferrari engines as part of a unique deal aimed at keeping costs down for the backmarkers and this idea of one-year-old engines was also suggested when Red Bull began talks with the Scuderia.

Dennis claim ringing true

Incredibly, however, all the current mess has reminded me of comments made by Ron Dennis, the chairman and CEO at McLaren. He has claimed several times that customer teams will never win in F1 and that despite the ongoing problems with the new Honda power unit, it is the best way to ensure long-term success.

Well with Adrian Newey claiming "fear" is causing Mercedes and Ferrari's unwillingness to supply Red Bull, knowing how strong the Milton Keynes-based team is aerodynamically, the notion by Dennis that customer teams won't be able to beat their suppliers is ringing true.

For Mercedes and Ferrari it would look rather embarrassing if Red Bull beat them with the same engine despite their name still being on the side of the victorious car and, whichever way you try and spin it, that is the reason why it seems they are saying no.

With Honda, yes the current situation is the worst in McLaren's history but with the full co-operation of the Japanese supplier when they do start to get it right so will McLaren and that wouldn't be guaranteed with a rival team's engine in the back.

Red Bull in F1 essential to capturing young fans

As a Red Bull fan, I think F1 would be better off with the Austrian energy drinks giant still in the sport. Their sponsorship in other sports opens up F1 to the younger demographic and a whole new audience that it would have otherwise found hard to capture.

Their ability to attract new fans and the popularity of its home race in Austria the past two years are proof that as viewing figures fall they can be part of turning Formula 1 around. They have brought a fresh, open approach to how a team is run which is of stark contrast to the way Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari operate.

Without them a huge void is left that can't be filled as the sport loses a competitive team at the front and one that focuses on finding the next generation of star drivers (albeit Toro Rosso's future is looking a little brighter).

If Red Bull has to take a year hiatus and come back with its own engine that would be a much more beneficial route for them and F1 though a solution that keeps them involved in 2016 must be found.

The whole fiasco is a shame for F1 as once again self-motivation is getting in the way of common sense and while Red Bull are at least partly responsible, they are far from the only guilty party.

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