As each day passes, Red Bull's threat to pull out of formula one is appearing more and more real. "At the moment we have no engine (for 2016)," boss Christian Horner said. "The situation is very critical." Not only is the situation critical, it was also very fluid throughout the Japanese grand prix weekend.
As teams were setting up at Suzuka last week, it seemed a deal with Ferrari was close. But rumours suggest Ferrari chiefs including technical boss James Allison as well as number 1 driver Sebastian Vettel have successfully argued to Sergio Marchionne that only a 'B' specification should be offered. Red Bull says it will never accept that. "Mr (Dietrich) Mateschitz has been crystal clear," said Horner. "We have to have a first-class engine."
Dr Helmut Marko, Mateschitz's closest F1 confidante, agrees, telling Auto Motor und Sport: "The exit scenario is becoming more concrete. It is an insult to offer us 2015 engines when Sauber and Haas will get the one for 2016." Sauber chief Monisha Kaltenborn, however, said Sauber deserves Ferrari's top specification, insisting: "We have always behaved very decently towards our partner."
That is a definite stab at Red Bull's treatment of its current supplier, Renault, whose divorce from the energy drink-owned teams will be imminently confirmed. Mercedes' Niki Lauda agrees: "They (Red Bull) put themselves into this position that they must now go begging for an engine."
Even struggling Honda is not an option for Red Bull, "because of Ron Dennis" and his resistance, Marko revealed. And even if a potential solution lies somewhere down the track, Horner suggested time may simply soon run out.
"The situation was already critical two weeks ago," Horner explained. "For Toro Rosso even more. With each passing day without a solution, it is less likely that we will be here. Now the (2016) season is even going to start two weeks earlier, making it even worse." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing