Mercedes baulked at supplying Red Bull for 2016 after analysing the pace of the energy drink team’s chassis.
That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, who said that although the team is having to stick with underpowered Renault for now, he is “somewhat proud” that Mercedes but also Ferrari and Honda refused to sell Red Bull a different power unit.
“At the Hungarian grand prix, it is easiest to know the power numbers of your rivals,” he told Austria’s Servus TV. “And Mercedes found that our chassis is better.
“This strengthened the front against us even more, and therefore there was no deal,” Marko added.
“We are somewhat proud that everyone is so afraid of us,” he continued, “but the FIA has now recognised that it is not acceptable for the manufacturers to determine who gets an engine and who does not.
“Hopefully, our martyrdom is the impetus for a better future in F1,” Marko said.
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, however, rejected the theory that Red Bull was left high and dry by the carmakers.
“Red Bull has an engine, a Renault, so what are we talking about?” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “Ferrari and Mercedes did not help out for various reasons, but it was not as though they (Red Bull) were forced out of F1.
“They just couldn’t get the engine they wanted,” Wolff added.
“No one is afraid of anything, but we want to compete with the same conditions. Red Bull can use its budget mainly for chassis development, believing they also have the right to the best engine.
“That is not our philosophy,” he insisted. “The second aspect is how to deal with your partner when you’re in trouble.”
As Marko suggests, however, the Red Bull situation is forcing change in F1, including the FIA giving Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt a controversial “mandate” to act on certain issues.
“Some of the things that have come up lately, I’d rather not comment on,” said Wolff.