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Red Bull’s F1 exit threat: Whose fault is it?

Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 21 May 2011.

You don’t often see highly rated Formula One teams menacing to quit the sport as publicly as Red Bull have done. Yes, Ferrari have threatened to leave the sport if changes were not made to the current regulations but they seemed to have got a hold of it now. In Red Bull’s scenario their remarks have come just after the end of the first race of the season. That tells you they’re so desperate.

The Milton Keyes-based team are the most dominant in recent time and have won four drivers and constructors’ championships in the last five years. It all started back in 2010 when the Austrian team overcame reliability issues to mount a title fight with their ominous speed compounded by their mighty aero package.

Sebastian Vettel became the youngest world champion when Fernando Alonso fell short by four points at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Carrying his momentum the German snapped the competition winning 11 races and finishing out of podium only twice which included a retirement to claim a double the next year.

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Though Fernando Alonso put up a valiant fight it was not quite enough as Vettel stormed through the pack after recovering from the opening lap accident dramatically to snatch the title away from him by 3 points a year later. In 2014 the unstoppable Red Bull driver destroyed the contest with a record 9 on the trot victories to become quadruple champion. And let alone all those four constructors’ title came with a convincing winning margin to their rivals.

Every success story has its trials and tribulations and Red Bull were not an exceptional case either. In those four years some of their cars’ advantages were stripped down–banning of double diffuser and flexible bodywork, modifications to engine mapping, changes to exhaust positioning – to make the rest of the teams rein in on them.
They thrived in those difficult times with the support of engine supplier Renault who had the best engine of the V8 era and tireless design team overseen by Adrian Newey and let alone the hefty sum of money Dietrich Mateschitz invested in the team.

Last year the mighty Bulls bowed out to the fiercely charging Silver Arrows as the new turbo era toppled the proceedings and shook out the grid. Mercedes were paid off to their early involvement in honing the new regulations to full-effect.

On account of that Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was able to win only three races when Merc’s endured reliability issues. The remaining sixteen races saw the Mercedes boys scrap with each for victory.

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Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner was moaning during the course of that season about his dissatisfaction towards the rules as Red Bull stood by and witnessed Mercedes taking away their crown. After the dismal season, having beaten by Ricciardo, the highly frustrated four time champion Sebastian Vettel left for Ferrari.

It begged the question that Newey’s scaled down involvement in the design of the car a biggest concern as the team also lost his protégé Peter Prodormou to McLaren. Horner has been vocal about his criticisms towards Renault since then and it’s obvious to say their relationship soured over the past few months.

Horner has asked for ‘engine equalisation’ regulation which not only clampdown Mercedes’ advantage but also its customer teams like Williams, Force India and Lotus. Moreover, Mercedes waited for long and worked their way up and it would be unfair on them to do so.It will fall under the category where the sport finds it hard to get a hold on – keeping a balance between entertainment and competition.

Renault seems likely to have more than 60bhp deficit over Mercedes PUs and is causing major concerns for Red Bull and Toro Rosso. The French manufacturers’ engine problems are outlined as the source for Red Bull’s incompetence or do they actually lack harmony within after the dire season of late? Only during the course of the season some questions will be answered! (Suren Dhar)

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