Analysis: Red Bull move towards divorce from Renault and Mercedes engine deal
Red Bull Racing
Renault F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Aug 2015   |  11:00 pm GMT  |  102 comments

It’s been a significant weekend in the development of the story around Red Bull breaking up with Renault and partnering with Mercedes.

There have been suggestions that the Austrian-owned team has already served notice of intent to break its contract, which was due to expire at the end of 2016. Renault has apparently contested the grounds for the termination, which is based on Renault not meeting performance targets.

It is not clear how those targets are specified in the contract, but it is understood not to be based on figures but on relative performance to other power units in the field.

Red Bull has been lobbying Mercedes for months to supply it with engines, but the German manufacturer has been making negative noises up until the last few weeks, when the mood music changed. This is likely to have come from the Mercedes board.

Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has made it clear that he will pull out of F1 if his team does not have a competitive engine. So Mercedes is acting here partly out of a will to do what is in the best interest of the sport.

Toto Wolff

We reported last week Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s change of tone, when he said,

“If I wear my Mercedes Benz motorsport boss’ hat and think about what is in the best interests of F1, then I have to say it’s (a Red Bull engine supply) an interesting option because it it would link us to a brand that has huge appeal among the young and it’s a winning brand,” Wolff told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“However, speaking as the boss of a rival F1 team, I have to say that it’s not ideal to strengthen one of your main competitors which knows how to make winning racing cars.”

But some sources urge caution – no deal is yet done and this is something Red Bull would dearly love, but it doesn’t mean definitively that it will happen.

One thing is clear; Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler, does not want to upset his opposite number at Renault, Carlos Ghosn. Mercedes and Renault have some significant joint initiatives behind the scenes and there is no question of their collaboration being threatened by an F1 based squabble.

So Mercedes has insisted that Red Bull and Renault be officially divorced before they will get involved in any collaboration.

Lauda, Wolff, Horner

The upsides for Mercedes of supplying Red Bull are that they could keep a close eye on one of their main rivals, they could also help a partner team to get ahead of Ferrari and blunt the Maranello threat.

Mercedes would however insist on some kind of clause whereby Red Bull would be prevented from talking down its engine supplier, as it has consistently done with Renault over the years.

If, for example, Red Bull felt (as some Mercedes customers have suggested) that some of the software and intangibles around the power unit was not to exactly the same spec as the works team, Mercedes would not want their noisy customer to create negative PR.

Bernie Ecclestone is known to want to keep Renault in F1 and is working with them to try to broker their takeover of Lotus.

Renault is weighing up the acquisition of Lotus, which is close to the financial edge with a variety of creditors circling this weekend and threatening the team’s property in the Spa paddock with seizure.

With a lot of debt to parent company Genii on Lotus’ books, one theory has it that Lotus owners Genii will remain as silent minority shareholders in the team, offsetting some of the debt against that.

But another school of thought is that the situation is so bad that the team could go into administration and Renault would acquire it from the administrator, which would leave creditors in a bad situation (as the Marussia administration did).

Ironically one of Lotus’ biggest creditors is…. Mercedes.

Lotus’s base at Enstone would need to be recapitalized but it has some good facilities including a 60% wind tunnel, up to date CFD and a good simulator, some of which were investments by Genii.

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As a FAN of F1, I don’t like the way Red Bull managed their relationship with Renault in the media. That’s not how you stick by one of F1’s historic and successful engine partner and works team. It’s a sport. There is no guaranteed outcome unless you spying 24/7 on the competition and have infiltrated their labs. All credit to Mclaren and Honda.

As a works team and or engine supplier, I don’t see the benefit of getting into a pickle with Christian Horner, but mostly Dietrick Materstiche (what a mouthful!).

Materstiche should just finance his own engine. That way success of failure he can look in the mirror and be happy or sad, tap himself on the back or not. He does not deserve an engine partner. I hope Ferrari say no, in spite of Bernie’s mutterings.


The potential scenario is pretty exciting to me. But only if the engine regs are relaxed somewhat. Renault can own their own team but they still won’t catch up unless they’re given a chance. Ditto Honda.

That said, a competitive Renault team a la 2005/2006, battling it out with Merc, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren, is a pretty mouthwatering prospect.

But so much depends on the power units.


It’s a bit harsh on Renault this,merc had a big head start on the new power units,and has more resources ,has there ever been a bad Renault engine,seriously,I think it’s best they have their own team,but I’d be after torro rosso if I were them,it’s a good chassis and runs their motor,Renault lets red bull out of contract,but we want torro rosso,thankyou very much,just my view…..


Good article James.

Remember F1 to the manufacturers is a marketing tool. Mercedes have to weigh up the pros and cons of the deal with Red Bull. How much exposure will the Mercedes brand have with the Red Bull package offset against a possible drop in ‘air time’ if Red Bull were to become front runners.

Mercedes would need to put Red Bull on a very tight leash. A one year rolling contract would make people think twice about bad mouthing their engine supplier. As for other teams leaving Mercedes for other units I can’t see that happening as Mercedes is rumoured to be the cheapest and without question the best. It’s also is a premium brand which helps attract and increases the rates sponsors/partners pay to be associated with the team.

The change would be good for F1 and make the battle at the top closer even if the customer engines are rumoured 20hp down on the factory units.


I read on another site about Force India entering the frame for Renault take over…

Any thoughts/facts on this


Anyone know what the penalties for violating the token system are (ie., doing more development than allowed). Can Renault (or Honda) take a fine, a year of massive points deduction in the championship etc., to get back on an even keel?


@dave p.

If Renault pull out, they may change the rules to allow more than 4 teams to be supplied due to the limited number of manufacturers.

Otherwise torro Rosso back to Ferrari? It may help them get a better look at max verstapen.


Well… somebody’s logic is flawed here.

McLaren abandon Merc and say it is because NO team will ever win the championship as a customer team and that they must be be a works team.

RedBull, who by their own admission, are there to win championships, now want to be customer team?


Elsewhere I have read that Renault are having talks with Force India about a majority takeover.

Presumably this is just a way of showing they have more than one option for acquiring a team, thus keeping the price they are going to have to pay for Lotus as low as possible.


I was interested to hear Toto’s comments after the race when he was asked about settings for the customer teams, he said the engines and all the modes are identical, he also said the ‘strat 7’ max attack mode is limited to a certain number of kilometres per engine for both works and customer teams.


P.S before anyone suggests Toto might be lying about this, remember he has said it publicly now and if it turns out not to be the case then there would be some serious breach of contract litigation from the customer teams.


Given this goes through…

DR for 2016 WDC.


Torn on this.

Glad mercedes can see the bigger picture, and realise we need a multitude of competitive teams to keep the sport alive.

On the other hand, leaves a very sour taste in the mouth that Red Bull will be rewarded for the tantrums and toy throwing of the last 18 months.


renault always has the rules of deminishing returns

David Selway-Hoskins

The scene we now have with four engine manufacturers is potentially quite a healthy one for F1 (accepting the daft hybrid rules and rubbish sounding engines as a necessary evil).

The problem bedevilling the whole scene is the inability of the underdogs to test and develop due to the ‘cost saving’ powertrain component rules. Thus they are hidebound by the rules to accept poor performing engines when they probably know just what they need to do to catch Mercedes. Let’s face it, Renault, Honda, and Ferrari are not idiots when it comes to building racing engines.

The racing itself is suffering hugely from the application of engine penalties. Here we are, just over half way through the season, and most teams are going to be taking penalties for engines and gearboxes for the rest of the season. Please somebody, tell me what this has to do with racing………………………………


The same Honda that declared before Spa that their new upgrades to the engine would put it about on par with the Ferrari engine? From what we saw in practice and qualifying so far in Spa, Honda doesn’t know what it’s doing.


I can hear Elton John singing ” iit’s a Sad Sad Situation & Sorry is the hardest word to say, ” 😀 as Renault & RBR drift apart for good.

Still unsure about Mercedes & Res Bull is it worth the hassle.

Mercedes F1 team having an out & out competitor trying to stifle there own chances.

But then again it would be a nice enough buffer to stop Ferrari getting in the mix.

Williams also will be in themix too.

Still RBR Mercedes exudes problems especially with the owners & a constantly moaning Christian Horner…who on earth would have them nagging in your ear 24/7.

Not me !


cant believe Mercedes will supply red bull. as far as i know dont red bull make the best chassis and have sum of the best aero people? so give them the best engine and where will that leave the mercedes race team. also mean any moeny they put into getting more performance out of the engine will be almost pointless and will only help with beating Ferrari but a mercedes engined red bull would be the real fret


why would mercedes spend 100s of millions trying to beat a red bull mercedes when all they have to do is not supply them with engines?


Hoping Renault stay in f1. But they need teams to supply to make it viable. No word on if toro rosso will follow suit and ask for merc engines in the future?

One thing though, I seem to remember last year that there was mention of the rules being that an engine supplier could only supply a maximum number of teams. I think it was Martin brundle on the sky coverage who said there would be a fight between the teams to see who got mclarens vacated merc engine as only so many teams can use the same engine. Did I imagine that or what?


Not a Renault fan but I do hope they stay & better still Audi get their act together join the grid.. The more engine manufacturers the better. F1 needs to maintain what diversity still remains (engine/chassis/aero) & start to encourage even more, instead of bogging teams down with overly tight parameters.


Should this RBR-Renault ‘divorce’ go through, I’d be interested to see if Infiniti renew their sponsorship deal with Redbull given Infinitis relationship to Renault.

(If I have to explain… then here goes… Infiniti is Nissan’s Premium brand and last time I checked, Nissan & Renault had hold of each other by the wrist.)


Can someone explain again how the engine development tokens work, and what are the rules for customer engine supply? Is it possible for Renault to develop their power unit up to Mercedes level by using their tokens? As the power units are homologated, is it within the regulations to supply detuned engines to customer teams?



Will the deal include supplying to Toro-Rosso as well?


No I suspect not


You suspect not?.. surely it wouldn’t be allowed… they can only supply 4 teams?


If Mercedes supply Red Bull with it’s best asset then We should expect one thing….the rise of Red Bull and the fall of Mercedes F1


Really? Customer cars that have to learn to integrate an engine so the design of the car is compromised, rather than building it in from the start. Mercedes-Mercedes would be in a nice position.


If that happens at least it will identify which is the best team. The cream rises to the top.


Could it be that the Italian Bulls run with the Renault power unit for another year, with the mother Bulls taking the Merc engines earmarked for a bought out Lotus, as a compromise and win/win divorce.


James, just wanted to let you know that the old problem is back. Not all comments get through and I do not mean through moderation, they do not reach moderation. I am using macbook and iphone and see the same problem. I write a comment, press the button and…nothing happens, the comment is gone. It doesn’t happen always, randomly. It was ok for a couple of months and I see the problem as of several days ago. Any upgrade on wordpress side?


My race prediction on the qualifying page disappeared. I had Bottas P1, Hamilton P2, Perez P3, Massa P4, Rosberg P5 at the end of the first lap. I got Rosberg right (I think). Where’s my credit 🙂 ?

Comment vanished.

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