Engines, or ‘power unit’ as this unholy mess of electric skulduggery is euphemistically called, have dominated the F1 news since this idea of Satan was allowed to disgrace Tilkedromes around the world even more than they already manage by their very existence. Today, however, it seems they are the focus of just about everyone. Heck, even the ‘murricans talk about them.
Namely NBC Sports do, who conducted an interview with Red Bull’s Christian Horner, who admitted that the VW plans have gone up in smoke due to the emission test rigging software found in 11 million VW cars. Unfortunately, due to VW’s excessive platform sharing, you’ll have to add a few million Skodas and Seats to that as well, who were built with the same rigged diesel unit.
A little research in German papers reveals more details about the possible VW deal. According to AMuS, Mateschitz has been working for five years on making long-time partner Volkswagen interested in entering Formula 1. The main road block had always been Clan patriarch Ferdinand Piëch, but he found himself ousted after a self-initiated power-struggle with Martin Winterkorn, but the latter is gone now, too.
And with him goes any chance of a VW entry. The only realistic option had always to be Audi and it would have meant the end for their WEC program, and perhaps the DTM entry as well. With VW in WRC, Audi and Porsche in WEC and Audi again in DTM, the Volkswagen Group is already present in most major forms of motorsport. With fines numbering in billions looming on the horizon, VW has other problems right now.
So where do things go from here? With Red Bull hogging the news, we almost missed that plucky survival artists Manor are close to signing a deal that says Mercedes-Benz in the header. The gearboxes are believed to be coming from Williams, according to German media.
That means Lotus is not only locked out of their hospitality area now. If Manor gets the deal, and it appears to be a question of when rather than if, Lotus is lacking power for next year and their only hope is Renault pulling their thumbs out of a dark place.
The problem is, that like their engine development, Renault want to do it as cheaply as possible. Renault’s CEO Carlos Ghosn has been pestering Bernie about a guaranteed premium status for a Renault works team and wants to use those guaranteed payments as a security for a bank loan with which to pay for the take-over. That of course would explain why they kept cash-cow Maldonado. In the end Bernie will most likely have to cave in or he risks losing up to three teams.
What about Red Bull? With Manor switching to the dark side of the force, there would be space for another customer and that could well be Red Bull. Word in German media is that the talks seem to look good for RB and that Ferrari will indeed supply 2016 spec units. But with Mercedes insisting they don’t have capacities for more than three customers, it appears plausible that those of Ferrari aren’t much bigger. That puts Toro Rosso in doubt.
More work for Bernie, it seems as he does now have to appease Renault, put pressure on Ferrari in regards to Red Bull and it seems he needs to convince Honda to give up their exclusivity with McLaren.
It looks like the little toad has to work for his money these days.