Mateschitz backs up Red Bull F1 quit threat, suggesting Renault should also consider its future

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Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has confirmed that he is considering ending his involvement in Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, claiming that he will only remain in the sport so long as his teams are competitive.

Following a difficult start to the season in Australia that saw Daniel Ricciardo finish in a distant sixth place, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko blamed engine supplier Renault for the team’s failings and claimed that the team could quit if changes were not made to F1.

Ricciardo and teammate Daniil Kvyat struggled once again in Malaysia, finishing ninth and tenth behind the Toro Rosso pairing of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Mateschitz has now made a firm statement about Red Bull’s future in the sport, telling the Austria Press Agency that he would only keep his teams in F1 if they were competitive and had capable power unit.

“We will only stay in Formula 1 if we have a competitive team, and we need a competitive power unit for that,” Mateschitz said.

“If we don’t have one, we can race with the best car and the best drivers and still have no chance of competing for victory.

“We are not a car manufacturer who could justify the investment, so we rely on Renault to close the gap to Ferrari and, above all, Mercedes.

“If the cost-benefit calculation isn’t right anymore, it’s not to say that we’ll continue forever.”

The new engine formula introduced to F1 in 2014 has seen Mercedes pull ahead of the field thanks to its superior power unit.

A late start in 2014 saw Renault lag behind the German marque, limiting Red Bull to three victories and second place in the constructors’ championship last year. However, its issues appear to be persisting in 2015, with Red Bull dropping further down the field behind Ferrari and Williams.

Mateschitz went on to suggest that Renault should consider its own involvement in F1 if it could not improve its power unit and become more competitive.

“Of course Renault can also weigh its options, including a pull out,” the 70-year-old said. “As a manufacturer, it’s your task to deliver a competitive power unit.

“If you can do that, it’s great. If, for whatever reason, you can’t do that, you should pull out. Then the consequences for us would be clear, too.”

Renault is known to be considering its future involvement in the sport. However, this could manifest itself in the return of a works team, with Toro Rosso being identified as a possible team that could be sold to the French marque.

With Audi also reportedly looking to enter F1 and being named as a possible buyer for Red Bull, if Mateschitz is serious about quitting the sport, it is unlikely he will struggle to offload the operation.

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.