Franz Tost believes that a rumored sale of Scuderia Toro Rosso to French manufacturer Renault could provide the boost required to allow his team to break into the top five in Formula 1.
Following the Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said that the energy drink brand could quit F1 completely unless changes are made to the current regulations.
This only fuelled rumors of a possible sale of Toro Rosso – which is owned by Red Bull – to Renault, who is thought to be seeking a return with a factory team.
When asked about the speculation in Friday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Tost said that a possible sale could be very lucrative for Toro Rosso.
“I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Toro Rosso to make the next step forward,” Tost said.
“The team wants to be established in the future within the first five in the constructors’ championship and to be part of a manufacturer, to work together with a manufacturer, to be owned by a manufacturer would be exactly this step forward which the team needs to be established in the first five.”
Renault engine chief Cyril Abiteboul was also asked about the rumors, and said that the French marque was considering a number of options for its F1 future – one of which was quitting the sport altogether.
“I can confirm that we are looking at a lot of options, including getting out of Formula 1,” Abiteboul said. “Honestly, if Formula 1 is that bad for Renault’s reputation, if we see that we struggle with the current formula, if Formula One is not delivering value what it costs Renault […] this is what we are looking at.
“Obviously we think that we are a credible player in the sport but we want to compete amongst the best brands and that Formula 1 is good for us as a brand, then we need to think about what else can we do to what we are doing.
“If you do that, this is an open market, we have the capacity to have discussions with lots of parties. But as I’ve said, for the time being the focus is on engines.”
Renault last raced in F1 with a full works team back in 2009, having bought out Benetton in 2002. The operation now exists as Lotus F1 Team, which cut all ties with Renault at the end of 2014.
As Red Bull’s B-team, it is interesting that Tost expressed such support for a sale to a manufacturer such as Renault. The subtext to this is the belief that, so long as Red Bull owns Toro Rosso, it will forever be a midfield outfit with little hope of breaking into the top five teams.
Regardless of Red Bull’s own involvement in F1, should Dietrich Mateschitz – the owner of the energy drink brand – decide that Toro Rosso has fulfilled its purpose of nurturing future drivers for the main team, then a possible sale could occur without a complete withdrawal from F1.