Oct.9 (GMM) Daniel Ricciardo has backed the October deadline set by his boss to end Red Bull’s current engine crisis.
If the deadline comes and goes without the energy drink company finding engines for its two F1 teams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso will have to pull out of the sport.
But at least the contracted Red Bull quartet – featuring Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and the teen sensation Max Verstappen – would then have a few months to make other plans.
“I think it’s good that Dietrich has set a deadline,” Australian Ricciardo said at Sochi.
“We need to know what we are going to do once and for all, and we can’t wait until Christmas to design the car.”
Up and down the pitlane, although there is alarm that Red Bull could punch a four-car hole in the 2016 grid, sympathy for the energy drink brand is actually limited.
“It seems really odd to me that in the moment they don’t have success, they’re so upset about it. I don’t remember any other team doing that,” said Mercedes’ reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
But the situation means that Red Bull’s rivals are being forced to consider the prospect of racing third cars next year, with Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene admitting he has even talked to Charlie Whiting about the logistics.
Ferrari and Mercedes, however, are refusing to take the blame for Red Bull’s predicament, and even F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is not pointing fingers.
“I don’t have an engine to give them (Red Bull),” he said, “but no one has done anything wrong. They’re only following the rules.
“I can’t force them (Ferrari and Mercedes) to do something they don’t want to do,” Ecclestone added, arguing that to do otherwise would be akin to a ‘cartel’.
What the situation has done is reinforce Ecclestone’s view that the ‘power unit’ regulations have failed, but the 84-year-old said they in fact “failed before they even began”.
So as time goes on, it becomes clearer that Red Bull’s is not merely an idle threat — the risk that F1 will imminently lose the brand is very real.
When asked what Dietrich Mateschitz should do, Ecclestone answered: “He should buy Volkswagen.”
A more likely option is that Red Bull will have to accept Ferrari’s offer of 2015-spec engines, even though there is now doubt that is even on the table.
“I don’t know. You should ask Ferrari,” said Ecclestone.
But if it means racing in 2016 or sitting at home, Ricciardo suggested Red Bull should think about it.
“If it (having a 2015 engine) means we are 20hp less than the others then we would be in better shape than we have been this year,” said the Australian.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, said that although the idea of Red Bull quitting is shocking, he is glad he is watching the situation from the cockpit.
“Frankly I’m very glad I’m just the driver and not the one making the decision!” he smiled.