Red Bull’s consultant Helmut Marko came out to quickly reject any suggestions that Red Bull may follow Honda and bow out of Formula 1.
“They are safe right now. But RBR could save 30 percent of their budget.”
I do agree, they are safe, but right now only. By ‘right now’ I mean 2009 season.
I do not think there is much doubt about Toro Rosso and Red Bull being on the grid in Melbourne. But I am afraid that 2009 season may be the last for the Toro Rosso team. The dual operation works out well for Dietrich Mateschitz, at the moment. He has four Red Bull branded cars on the grid, four drivers dressed in Red Bull overals and all this for less money than any other race winning team. The issue however is, Red Bull only builds one car used by 2 teams, fitted with 2 different engines. Both teams get the car from Red Bull Technology so technically one of them runs a customer car. And as the rules stand right now that is a practice they will not be allowed to continue with beyond 2009 season.
Dietrich Mateschitz stated earlier this year that building 2 cars and running to separate teams is not what he had signed for. Red Bull’s share in Toro Rosso was up for sale. It worked out a bit differently and instead of selling his share Mateschitz ended up buying the shares of his partner Gerhard Berger. Berger walked away from the team that in his opinion does not have too bright future lying ahead. Mateschitz now has the entire team to sell.
Despite the current cost saving frenzy it does not look likely there will be any U-turn on the customer car issue. For that to happen all the teams would have to agree. There is only one real opposition left, but that is a proud one that stands firm. Adam Parr, William’s CEO:
“There is the scope for teams to put three cars on the grid and if we have eight teams with three cars, that’s 24 cars which is four more than we have had this year. Even if we went to seven teams, we’d have 21 cars. My opinion is that it is far better to have seven or eight constructors than seven or eight constructors and three or four customer teams. Williams would rather compete on equal terms with constructors and take our chances than mess around with customer teams.”
Adam Parr may be bluffing. But I think he is not and so Red Bull can forget about running two teams with identical cars in 2010. But who would buy a team that has no car to race with in 2010 especially when now there is also Honda on the market ? I am afraid that unless they start building their own cars in Faenza (they would perhaps be able to get away with taking the 2009 Red Bull car as a base of their own 2010 car) they are as good as gone by the end of 2009 season … And who knows, if Mateschitz can’t sell and decides to pull the plug on one of his two teams all the remaining Formula 1 teams may have to run 3 cars. Should not be a problem for a guy used to running four …