Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has dismissed speculation of a possible sale of the team to Audi in the near future despite admitting that it is “significantly behind Mercedes” in 2015.
Following a disastrous performance at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March, Marko said that Red Bull could quit Formula 1 altogether if changes were not made to the sport.
With Audi and Renault thought to be considering entry to F1 with works teams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso were tipped as possible operations that could be bought by the manufacturing giants.
However, in an interview with the official Formula 1 website, Marko rejected speculation of an Audi buy-out of Red Bull, and said the team would not be able to change engine supplier until 2017 at the earliest.
“I answer with the words of [Red Bull owner] Dietrich Mateschitz: there haven’t been talks nor are we commencing a winter sale, referring to the three hundred million that is hanging in the air as a sale price,” Marko said.
“We have a contract with Renault until the end of 2016. A new engine manufacturer surely will wait to see what is possible within the rules in 2017.
“This decision of what is possible in 2017 has to be made soon as every new manufacturer needs lead-time for development. I would imagine at least two years.”
Marko’s grievances in Australia stemmed from the lack of power being provided by the Renault power unit that Red Bull uses, giving the team little chance of competing with pace-setters Mercedes.
The Austrian claims that the team may not be able to challenge the Silver Arrows in F1 again until the regulations are changed due to their restrictive nature.
“We are significantly behind Mercedes,” Marko said. “They clearly dominate. The complexity of the units: IC engine, hybrid, MGU-K, MGU-H, and bringing all these systems together, and then adding driveability to it – that makes the best product and that is clearly the case with Mercedes.
“But because the rules are not open it means that you are only allowed to make changes on a very limited scale which makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to catch up.”