Christian Horner has admitted that a possible deal between Red Bull and Volkswagen has gone “up in smoke” following the German manufacturer’s recent emissions scandal that could result in an $18 billion fine.
Volkswagen has been frequently linked with a move into Formula 1 over the past few years with one of its brands that include Audi, Porsche and Bugatti.
Over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan claimed that a deal between Red Bull and Volkswagen was very close, with the manufacturer’s entry poised to remedy the team’s recent woes with the Renault power unit.
Red Bull has stated that it will quit F1 if it does not have a competitive engine for 2016 as talks with Ferrari continue, but its long-term goal appears to have been to work with Volkswagen.
Around the same time, it was revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency had found that many of Volkswagen’s road cars had been fitted with software that rigged emissions tests.
The company admitted on Tuesday that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were running with the software, prompting CEO Martin Winterkorn to tender his resignation.
Speaking to NBCSN in Suzuka on Friday, Red Bull team principal Horner said that needing an engine supplier so late in the year is not ideal, but that he is working hard to strike a new deal.
“Of course it’s not an ideal situation,” Horner said. “I’m working hard to try and find a solution, and hopefully there will be a solution in the coming weeks but it’s quite simple. If we don’t get an engine, we can’t push the car.
When asked if we could safely assume it would not be provided by Volkswagen, Horner wryly said: “That seemed to go up in smoke.”
Horner was quick to reinforce the severity of the team’s latest quit threat, saying that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz would not consider such drastic action lightly.
“Dietrich Mateschitz doesn’t tend to make idle threats so when he does talk, you have to listen to what he says,” he said.
“Other activities have been stopped at very short notice whether it’s NASCAR or Red Bull Air Race. F1 has to fulfil a purpose, and if it doesn’t fulfil that purpose within the group, then serious questions will be asked.
Horner once again laid blame with current engine supplier Renault, saying that the power unit it has supplied has made competing with the Mercedes and Ferrari-powered teams impossible, prompting Red Bull to question its place in the sport.
“It’s not that we’re no longer winning. It’s that we’re in a position where we can’t compete other than at bespoke circuits such as Singapore,” Horner said.
“I think what you have to understand with Red Bull is that having paid for an engine with Renault throughout our relationship, as a paying customer, it’s unacceptable to get a product as inferior as we’ve received.
“Therefore, with the way that the regulations are, unless you have a Mercedes or a Ferrari power unit, it’s quite simply impossible to compete. If we’re not able to compete, then you have to question what is the validity of remaining in F1.”