Go into any big internet forum with an F1 section these days and locate the almost inevitable thread named “Red Bull threatening to withdraw” or something similar. The level of vitriol you’ll meet there is enough to run an Alchemist’s laboratory. You’d think that Mateschitz & Co. have a habit of kicking puppies.
I’ve written in an earlier post that most people’s claims (including coming from the company itself) that Red Bull failed to give Renault credit when they were winning, is plainly wrong. First of all the Renault logo was clearly visible on the cars and driver overalls, the engine supplier was part of the team’s name and therefore on display whenever a winning list with Vettel or Webber on top was displayed, and ultimately it was FIA who prevented them from sending a Renault representative to the podium ceremony to get the team trophy. It was just as idiotic a move from the organizers as forbidding Vettel to take the Ferrari flag with him onto the podium last Sunday. Fernando Alonso and Ayrton Senna each once had a flag in their car!
One other thing that gets perpetually repeated is the public criticism of Renault, expressed by Red Bull. While you may say that it isn’t the nice thing to do, it is where things don’t add up for me.
I’ve been a freelance contractor for over ten years now, and one inevitable part of every contract I sign is a clause that lists the penalty payments and a provision to terminate the contract should one contract party do or say something that discredits the other.
How in the name of all that’s holy can the legal department of a global car manufacturer have failed to put such a clause in the supply contract of Red Bull? Or could it be, just maybe, that there is one and Renault merely didn’t enforce it, because
- The Renault claims are perfectly substantiated. Their claim always was that Renault wasn’t willing to invest what’s necessary to catch up. At least in that regard their claims were perfectly viable. Renault hasn’t spent a single token on any updates this year
- Perhaps, and I point out that it is pure speculation on my behalf, Renault found that criticism quite convenient. If they buy Lotus and continue as a works team, they would be locked in a contract that assured Red Bull works status. Now that’s rather inconvenient if you field your own team. On the other hand it also allows them to withdraw from F1 without breaking any contracts. Their last two customers have finally terminated the contract and Bernard E has no clause to force them with.
To me the question is, why has Renault put up with that public slating? Any competently drawn up contract would have seen Red Bull pay through the nose in blood for it. Yet, we’ve never heard anything about penalty payments. Could it be that Renault put up, perhaps even encouraged it, to get out of their obligations after failing badly at an engine formula they pushed for themselves? They clearly hadn’t calculated how much it would cost them to be competitive.