Red Bull 'quit threat' adds to crisis over new Formula 1 rules
Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz angry over Ricciardo disqualification and new F1 regulations
THE crisis brewing around new-look Formula 1 appears to be growing after the owner of the Red Bull and Torro Rosso teams threatened to quit the sport over the way it is run.
Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, the 134th richest man in the world with a fortune of £5.6bn, said Red Bull's future in the F1 circus had more "to do with sportsmanship and political influence" than finance.
He told Viennese newspaper Kurier that there was a "clear limit" to what he was prepared to accept and complained about what he called the "inappropriate politicisation" of the sport.
His comments came after Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix earlier this month over new fuel regulations. Red Bull are appealing against the decision.
The reason for his displeasure is not difficult to work out. "It is thought Mateschitz has not taken too kindly to the term 'cheating' being used in association with his drinks company," says the Daily Telegraph.
He is also unimpressed by the new rules governing F1 this season. Not only is fuel consumption now tightly regulated, the new V6 engines have annoyed many in the sport, including commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone, who believe they are too quiet.
"F1 is not there to set new records in fuel consumption, nor to make it possible to have a whispered conversation during a race," said Mateschitz.
But could his displeasure have more to do with the way his team has responded to the new landscape?
"Red Bull's four-year dominance of F1 has been ended by the new formula, which has lessened the effect of aerodynamics - in which the team excelled - and brought back engine performance as a differentiator," explains Andrew Benson of the BBC. "Red Bull's engine partner, Renault, is significantly behind Mercedes in both outright power and fuel efficiency."
Possibly not, according to Chris Balfe of Pitpass.com. "While some might see his threat of withdrawal from the sport as the actions of a poor loser, many will concur with his thoughts on the direction in which the sport is heading."