Upset Red Bull owner may quit F1

Spielberg (Austria) - Team chief Christian Horner has confirmed that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz is serious in suggesting he would pull out of Formula One if the sport continued to leave him demotivated.

After an unpredictable Friday's free practice at the Red Bull team's home Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit, Horner said that his boss may speak only rarely, but he should be listened to when he did.

"Dietrich doesn't talk publicly often, but when he does, you have to listen," said Horner. "He's expressing his opinions and views. He's most definitely frustrated."

When asked if he could confirm the future of the four-time champions Red Bull team in Formula One, Horner added: "I'm not in a position to say that. Dietrich is the chairman. He's the owner.

"Hopefully, it won't come to that. We need to find a solution.

"It's in F1's interest for Red Bull to be in the sport."

On a day of continuing strife for F1, as the sport's image and problems were the subject of more widespread criticism and debate, Horner said the latest engine upgrades from Renault were critical to his team's hopes of a revival.

"With all these things, it's never one simple thing," he said. "If you look at our deficit to, say, Mercedes, you could say it's 80 per cent engine, probably 20 per cent chassis.

"The solution, obviously, to increase performance is more power. Renault are working hard on that."

After years of domination from 2010-13, Red Bull have struggled and champion driver Sebastian Vettel departed for Ferrari last year.

Vettel's former Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber launched a strong attack on the sport on Thursday when he claimed all involved, including the drivers, were feeling disillusioned.

Mateschitz said earlier on Friday that he felt demotivated by Renault's failures and the sport's declining level of interest and spectacle, an issue on which he gained support from Mercedes director and fellow Austrian Niki Lauda.

The three-time champion driver warned that the sport had no divine right to remain popular and well-supported by spectators, television audiences and sponsors.

"Whatever happens in the future, Formula One has to focus on its clients/fans," said Lauda.

"The world would keep on turning even if there was no F1, which is why we have to focus on what interests the consumer and what they want."

Lauda laid much of the blame for F1's current woes on the myriad regulations that control sporting and technical performance.

"F1 has basically been regulated to death down the years," he said.

"The drivers can't go beyond certain limits. The over-regulation is no good for any sport."

AFP

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Upset Red Bull owner may quit F1'. Print Edition | Subscribe