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Red Bull seeking Audi linkup or F1 days may be over

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 12 May 2015

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THE Red Bull Formula One team is in agony after last season’s lack of success and this season’s continuing woes after just five rounds — so much so, the drums from their side is beating even louder that its engine-supplier Renault has to shape up or ship out.

The company’s motorsport boss Helmut Marko gave a strong indication this week that the company will pull out of Formula 1 if they cannot get a competitive engine or Audi do not join forces with the team.

Team principal Christian Horner made no bones about the lack of success this season and frustration with Renault’s failure to master the hybrid engines introduced into F1 last year.

Horner (left) and Marko ... blame Red Bull's woes  on Renault engines.

Horner (left) and Marko … blame Red Bull’s woes on Renault engines.

Marko said Red Bull were interested in doing a deal that would see Audi enter F1, BBC Sport reported.

“If we don’t have a competitive engine in the near future, then either Audi is coming or we are out,” said Marko.

But he denied Red Bull had already been in formal talks with the German company, which is part of the Volkswagen Group.

Red Bull have a contractual commitment to race in F1 until 2020. They also have a contract with Renault at least until the end of the 2016 season.

However, the Volkswagen Group which counts Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Skoda and Seat among its brands has been unsettled at the top after Ferdinand Piech, who had led the German giant for more than 20 years, resigned as chairman last month.

The 78-year-old was a staunch opponent of any of VW’s brands entering F1, partly because of his personal antipathy towards F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the BBC said.

Uncertainty continues to surround the senior management of Audi as a replacement for Piech has not yet been announced.

Senior sources in the German car industry believe Audi chairman Rupert Stadler is keen on an F1 entry, but that idea was vetoed in January by Piech.

Vettel . . . won four world titles with Red Bull but left to join a resurgent Ferrari this season.

Vettel . . . won four world titles with Red Bull but left to join a resurgent Ferrari this season.

The team had further trouble with their Renault engines at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.

Reliability problems mean Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has already used four engines this season – which is as many as each driver is allowed to use throughout the year.

Red Bull, whose other driver Daniil Kvyat has also suffered engine failures, know it is inevitable they will be hit by grid penalties for using extra engines.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, by contrast, have used only one engine for all five races so far.

Marko said: “I hope the reliability issues are solved pretty soon because it is really depressing how much we are losing on the straights.”

“Renault see the problems themselves and we have to try and find out these problems together. It is not only reliability, it is also that we did not run most of the practice sessions because of other issues. It is also a quality problem. ”

In an Associated Press report, Horner said the 2015 season was “pretty much of a write-off” with his team stuck in “no man’s land” as it struggles with engine reliability and performance.

Having won three races last season, Ricciardo has not finished higher than sixth so far. The Australian driver finished seventh in Spain, with his Russian teammate Daniil Kvyat placing 10th.

“It is not enjoyable being in a Grand Prix like today when you are just going around, you’re not racing,” Horner said. “We want to get back. The frustration is that not all of it is in our hands. We are relying on our partner.”

“This year is pretty much of a write-off, you have just got to go for it, even if you end up using 20 engines,” Horner said. “It is far easier to make a fast engine reliable than a reliable car fast.”

Red Bull swept the drivers’ and constructors’ championships when Sebastian Vettel — who now drives for Ferrari — won four straight titles from 2010-13. That seems a long time ago with Red Bull currently fourth in the constructors’ race and already trailing Williams by 51 points and second-place Ferrari by 102.

“The step we need to get on the back of that group can’t be done just with the chassis,” said Horner, indicating that he expects more engine power from Renault.

“Reliability has taken a step forward, so focus desperately needs to turn to performance.”

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