Red Bull issues F1 quit threat over current rules

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Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko has said that the team could quit Formula 1 unless changes are made to the current regulations.

The energy drink brand established its team back in 2005 after buying Jaguar, and won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championship between 2010 and 2013.

However, the team has recently experienced a dip in form, with the lowest ebb coming in yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix as Daniel Ricciardo struggled to sixth place. His teammate, Daniil Kvyat, failed to make the start after an engine failure.

The change in the technical regulations for the 2014 season and switch to V6 turbo engines has seen Mercedes rise as the dominant force in F1, with its works team claiming both championships last year with a record number of wins and pole positions.

Much of Red Bull’s anger has been directed at engine supplier Renault, who admitted yesterday that “we would even seem to have moved backwards” over the winter.

All of this has resulted in Marko issuing a quit threat, saying that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz may have grown tired of F1.

“We will evaluate the situation again as every year and look into costs and revenues,” Marko explained to the Austrian media in Melbourne.

“If we are totally dissatisfied, we could contemplate an F1 exit. The danger is there that Mr Mateschitz loses his passion for F1.”

All manufacturers in F1 regularly analyze their participation in the sport and any possible future. In 2013, Mercedes was reported to be considering quitting after just four seasons as a works outfit, but decided to continue with the project that eventually bore fruit last year.

The current ‘engine formula’ is expected to last until 2017 at the earliest, with most within the paddock predicting that Mercedes will retain its advantage throughout this period.

As a result, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thinks that the FIA should take steps to try and cut Mercedes’ advantage to help the racing and close the field.

“When we were winning – and we were never winning with an advantage that Mercedes has – double diffusers were banned, exhausts were moved, flexible bodywork was banned, engine mapping was changed mid-season – anything was done to pull us back,” Horner said on Sunday.

“That was not just us, it was done to McLaren and Williams in other years. The FIA, within the rules, have an equalisation mechanism. I think it’s something that perhaps they need to look at.

“I fear the interest will wane. I didn’t see Mercedes much on the TV this afternoon and I can only imagine that’s because it’s not interesting watching a precession and the producer was looking to pick out other battles in the race.

“There weren’t that many cars out there. The highlight for me was to see Arnie on the podium!

It is worth noting that under the terms of the commercial agreement that all teams have with F1, the team is committed to the sport until 2020 at the earliest.

However, should Red Bull decide that enough is enough after 11 years of participation in F1, it could have serious ramifications on the sport. Mateschitz also owns Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s B-team, and is the main financier of the Austrian Grand Prix, which returned to the sport in 2014.

One name that has been linked with a possible buy-out of Red Bull is Audi. Just as F1 teams ponder quitting the sport each year, Audi frequently discusses a possible entry, and it could be that the Red Bull operation presents the perfect grounding.

In spite of its engine woes, Renault is known to be considering a return to F1 with a works team, having last raced with one back in 2009 before selling up to Lotus. Given that Toro Rosso has fulfilled its purpose of producing future Red Bull talent – Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat – Mateschitz may consider selling up to the French marque.

Marko’s warning may sound like nothing more than sour grapes, but in reality, a Red Bull exit from F1 is both understandable and feasible at this moment in time.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III