Interesting and quite surprising news came out of the Red Bull camp. The energy drinks company bought back the 50% stake in Scuderia Toro Rosso from Gerhard Berger taking full control over the former Mindardi team.
“I am very grateful to Gerhard for his huge input. Together we turned Toro Rosso into a team that qualified on a regular basis in the top 10 and collected world championship points.”
“A 100% financing of a joint project by one partner can only make sense, to my mind, at an initial stage. This stage is over now. That’s why Red Bull will take over the shares again.”
I think the statement from Gerhard Berger reveals the main reason behind this development – without any serious sponsors on board and probably nowehere in the vicinity the funding has to come from the shareholders. Berger simply can’t afford or does not want to fund the Toro Rosso operation from his own pocket.
It is however still interesting turn of events. Not that long ago there were reports that Mateschitz put his share in the team up for sale. After closing the loopholes in the regulations all the teams are to build their own chassis from season 2010 and this was something else than Mateschitz originally planned for his dual Red Bull/Toro Rosso operation. Mateschitz however later downplayed the “for sale” reports as taken out of context or misunderstood or whatever … And now he bought Berger’s shares back and fully owns two Formula 1 teams.
What does all this mean for the immediate and long term future of the team ? We will see. In the immediate future it looks like this has secured Sebastien Buemi his Toro Rosso race seat. And if Mateschitz plans to make the most of his second team as a marketing vehicle for Red Bull then Sato’s chances might have gone up as well. At the end Japan is one of the markets where Red Bull still has some job to do …
But can Mateschitz support two Formula 1 teams in a long term ?
Although as gandprix.com reports Red Bull can afford about 1 billion dollars a year on marketing I do not think that Mateschitz is ready to spend big chunk of that money on F1 only. One way how to limit the spending is to continue using same chassis for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso. For that to happen the teams would have to agree to overturn the every team own chassis rule from 2010. They may be more inclined to that now as nobody wants to see the grid reduced to 9 teams only but some teams, like Williams, may want something in return for that …
I also wonder if he will keep both liveries looking like moving Red Bull billboards or will he sacrifice some of the real estate for some serious sponsors. If he plans to sell some space on Toro Rosso cars, he would have to get rid of that huge splash of red paint they say is a bull …