Red Bull Porsche: Game of Thrones
Helmut Marko has confirmed that discussions between Porsche and Red Bull “are not over yet”.
He said so when German publication Autobild asked him about Porsche’s entry into Formula 1. The answer was somewhat cryptic, but worthy of a relationship going through difficulties. “Porsche in F1? It’s premature to say. The talks are not concluded yet. But F1 is having such a boom that any respected brand has to be there,” stressed the Red Bull adviser.
The problem is clear: a game of thrones. The same that returns in F1. Know who’s boss. A house like Porsche can’t be towed, but Red Bull doesn’t want to be sent. Under these conditions, the claim – or the request – of Porsche to acquire 50% of Red Bull Technologies is not seen favorably by the Austrians, nor by the management of the team. This is something we already echoed a few days ago.
Porsche was the winner with the TAG-Porsche engine installed in McLaren. But it was not a project on our part but rather an order from TAG. In their days as a full-fledged F1 constructor, the late 1950s and early 1960s were low-key, with only one victory. And the “return operations” as a motorcyclist were a fiasco, not only because of the engine but because the teams chosen belonged to the second part of the table –Footwork–. It’s clear that wants, needs an agreement with a high-level team, but also retains decision-making power over solutions.
Red Bull, for its part, does not want anyone to send it and he doesn’t want to be a client, but a main teambut control key technical decisions.
Red Bull or team leadership? There is a dilemma. Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey don’t want to see their future plans compromised, including the supercar they want to project. Newey is difficult to replace, but he absolutely wants to have his hands free. Marko and Horner, meanwhile, could see their role compromised if Porsche imposes its voice or holds 50% of the “votes”.
It has been known that Horner took advantage of the summer break to travel to Thailand meet Chalerm Yoovidhya, the son of the drink’s creator, Chaleo, 50% owner of Red Bull. They say for convince him not to sell 50% of the team to Porsche.
The situation is this “game of thrones” which has been a constant in F1… especially with the German brands. A brief review will clarify the situation.
Mercedes owned 40% of McLaren, but had no decision-making power and their wishes were often blocked by Ron Dennis and Mansour Ojjeh. Those of the star decided to break with McLaren and create their own team… based on Ross Brawn, that is to say what Honda had been.
BMW was successful with Williams, but Frank refused to sell the majority of the team to them. The Bavarian brand left Williams to set up its own team, taking the majority from Sauber.
Red Bull itself was previously a sponsor of Sauber and wanted to buy the team to have decision-making power and push it to the top. Peter Sauber refused to sell and Red Bull acquired Jaguar to have its own team.
There are two important circumstances to ignore. The first, Honda has decided to intensify its collaboration with Red Bull and the brand’s logo will again appear on the car from 2023, while it will take care of building the engines until then. The “transfer” of their intellectual property to Red Bull to manufacture and maintain them is therefore inappropriate.
On the other hand, Red Bull has created Red Bull Powertrains and has armed itself “to the teeth” to be able to manufacture its own engine if necessary and is ready to face the manufacture of its own engine alone. Indeed, they have already put a single-cylinder version on the test bench to begin the study of the combustion chamber.
In this game of ‘liar poker’, Red Bull seems to have better assets than Porsche: he has a team, he has the budget and the means to be able to have his own engine… or he can even convince Honda to come back; not in vain, there are rumors that the Japanese are interested again and that there are those in Tokyo who believe that the announcement of the withdrawal was hasty.
The decision must be imminent. On the one hand, the OK must be given to the FIA in time and this is already rushing. On the other hand, a heat engine for 2026 requires work now; it takes two and a half to three years to prepare it and you have to have the necessary infrastructure, which also takes time.
Porsche can announce its entry as a motorcyclist yes… and seek to buy a team to make it its own. That gives you some time, but the “numbers” of the operation are different and the price of any equipment for sale higher than what Audi will accept or must have already agreed with Sauber.
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