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Red Bull happy to work with Ferrari; VW rumors reignite

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Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz would be happy for his Formula 1 team to use Ferrari engines next season as its relationship with Renault nears the end.

Red Bull Racing has failed to put up any kind of challenge to the front-running teams so far this year, claiming just two podium finishes from the opening 12 rounds of the season.

The majority of the team’s woes have stemmed from its Renault power unit, and have prompted Mateschitz and RBR advisor Helmut Marko to threaten to quit the sport altogether.

Reports in the paddock suggest that Red Bull has already decided to terminate its agreement with Renault for 2016, and is now looking for a new engine supplier.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn confirmed at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this week that the French marque would only be involved in F1 in 2016 if it has its own team, with a takeover of Lotus currently being negotiated.

“We will either exit or run our own team,” Ghosn said. “We are assessing in detail and still having talks.”

Over the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said that the team was open to supplying Red Bull with engines for 2016 after Mercedes had rejected a deal for fear of increased competition.

In an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF, Red Bull owner Mateschitz said that he would happily accept Ferrari engines in the short-term future.

“That would be, for the next two or three years, a very acceptable solution,” Mateschitz said.

“If Ferrari as a work teams, and with [Sebastian] Vettel, cannot deliver [the championship] then it will not be possible for us as a customer.

“But we can get to the first three rows of the grid, and from there on to the podium.”

Beyond the next two to three years, speculation has reignited that Red Bull is looking to agree a deal with German giant Volkswagen that would see the manufacturer take over its F1 operation.

According to BBC F1 pundit and former team owner Eddie Jordan, “the fundamentals of a deal for the sale of the team have been agreed” between VW and Red Bull.

VW’s brands include Porsche and Audi, with the latter being the constant subject of speculation about a move into F1 in the future.

Last month, Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich laughed off speculation when speaking to MotorSportsTalk, and suggested that an immediate entry into F1 would not be possible.

“This is a discussion I’ve lived with for 20 years, and we never did it,” Ullrich said. “So I would be surprised if we did it tomorrow.

“If somebody wants to go into Formula 1 and they think that they can do it from one to the next year, I think he shouldn’t try to do it.”

On the same day that the report from the BBC emerged, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that VW could face a fine of $18 billion for using software intentionally designed to circumvent environmental standards on its cars.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).