It’s no secret Red Bull Racing is none too happy with engine supplier Renault. Team advisor Helmut Marko delivered a particularly crushing blow last month amid rumors the team would switch to a B-spec Ferrari engine, saying “a B version of the Ferrari would be better than the A version of the Renault.” Now, Renault has fired back at the team’s harsh comments.
Head of Renault Sport Cyril Abiteboul recently told the BBC that Red Bull’s reaction to their admittedly poor powerplant is similar to how the team acted in prior years. Abiteboul also described Red Bull, a team which may be a bit too used to winning, as “high maintenance.”
“Frankly, we know Red Bull very well and the behaviour we see now is no different to the behaviour we had in 2008 or 2009,” he said. “It has always been like this since we were working together. They try every single thing they can to have the performance they desperately want, not the day after tomorrow but tomorrow and, if possible, today.”
Renault also wishes Red Bull would see eye-to-eye with them, with Abiteboul admitting that being an engine supplier is “a difficult job,” for a historically successful team like Red Bull. Renault clearly wishes Red Bull would give them more respect and the treat the partnership as it’s supposed to be treated, however a continuation of the partnership beyond 2016 seems unlikely either way.
“We have been in the business of motorsport for more than a century,” Abiteboul said. “We have been in F1 in one way or another for more than 37 years. They have been in F1 for maybe a decade maximum.”
“This is a big difference between the two companies, so I think we need to understand each other’s mindset and the world in which we operate.”
If Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso do leave the Renault partnership behind after their contractual obligations have come to an end in 2016, the automaker would have no customers in Formula 1. This would force the company to either buy its own team, or withdraw from the sport entirely, a decision which will be based on the marketing value for the automaker.
“The only way you can justify investing a lot is to have high marketing return,” said Abiteboul.