Red Bull – powerless without a powerplant

Mercedes already supply engines to four teams, while Ferrari provide three. They cannot be forced under the regulations to take on more. While a deal with Ferrari is expected, there have been plenty of warnings about what could otherwise happen and Red Bull have set a deadline for the end of this month.

Red Bull have warned that they could leave Formula One if they cannot secure a competitive engine for 2016 to replace Renault units.   -  REUTERS

Russian Daniil Kvyat says that he is not thinking about his team's engine problems. “My job is to try to drive the car that I have as fast as I can and that’s what I want to focus," the Red Bull driver says.   -  Getty Images

Toto Wolff... "Red Bull is a great brand, but a few years ago, in just 18 months, we saw that Toyota, Honda and BMW all left and F1 survived."   -  Getty Images

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton is confused about Red Bull Racing's rapid turnaround. “It would be a shame for the fans if Red Bull pulls out," says the Briton.   -  Getty Images

Red Bull’s Formula One drivers put concerns about their team’s future engine supply to one side on Thursday and said they remained fully focused on the season’s remaining races.

Two of the sport’s current 10 teams are owned by Red Bull, but the Austrian energy drinks company has warned it could quit if it cannot secure a competitive engine for 2016 to replace Renault units.

Ferrari look the only real option, with champions Mercedes ruling out any deal that could lead to them being beaten by their rivals, but the sticking point has been over what specification they could provide.

Mercedes already supply four teams while Ferrari provide three with engines and cannot be forced under the regulations to take on more. While a deal with Ferrari is expected, there have been plenty of warnings about what could otherwise happen and Red Bull’s billionaire owner Deitrich Mateschitz has set a deadline for the end of this month.

“I just know that the team obviously is working hard, and now more than ever, to find something for next year,” said Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who drives for the Toro Rosso team that acts as a feeder to Red Bull Racing.

“Obviously it starts to be a bit late and we need to design all the rear part of the car. When you don’t have something at the rear at this stage of the year, it’s a bit tricky – but I have full trust that they will come to a solution.

“They (Red Bull) have done a lot for this sport, a lot for Formula One and they will end up having a decent engine, a decent package for next year,” added the youngster.

Russian Daniil Kvyat, preparing for his home race as a Red Bull driver after graduating from Toro Rosso, said he was just concentrating on the job. “My job is to try to drive the car that I have as fast as I can and that’s what I want to focus on first of all and the other things that are hanging in the air...I think they are up to other people in our team and I trust them 100 percent,” he told reporters.

Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone suggested the situation was out of his hands. “I can’t make these people do something,” he said. “I don’t have engines. These people, nobody has done anything wrong. They are following the regulations. It is as simple as that.”

‘It would be a shame for fans’

It’s not just fans who are confused about Red Bull Racing’s rapid turnaround. World champion Lewis Hamilton is, too.

“It would be a shame for the fans (if Red Bull pulls out),” the Mercedes driver said. “It seems really odd for me, having witnessed Red Bull’s success and then in the moment that they don’t have success, they’ve been upset about it. I’ve not seen that with any other team.”

If Red Bull and its sister team Toro Rosso were to go, the F1 grid would shrink to 18 cars for 2016, even with the arrival of American team Haas.

Among the drivers in jeopardy is Daniil Kvyat, who has settled in well in his first season with Red Bull, finishing second in Hungary in July.

The longer Red Bull waits to secure engines for 2016, the harder next season will be. Teams are already hard at work on designing next year’s cars, but without a power unit, they can’t design a complete vehicle.

‘F1 will survive, but at a cost’

Meanwhile the Mercedes chief, Toto Wolff, believes that Formula One can survive if Red Bull and their sister team Toro Rosso walk out, but at a cost.

“I would say that, definitely, losing Red Bull and Toro Rosso like that would not be good for F1,” said Wolff. “It would be a big loss. So, I hope it does not happen. Red Bull is a very hip brand and it is important for F1.

“I hope they can find an engine supplier. I know that negotiations are ongoing, but not with us. Let’s see how it pans out...”

Many close observers of the latest threat to the sport believe that a Red Bull departure would have a devastating effect on its image and brand.

“I think that in the current circumstances it is important to keep all teams, but we have seen teams coming and going,” Wolff added.

“I am not saying Red Bull is any different to the others. It is a great brand, but a few years ago, in just 18 months, we saw that Toyota, Honda and BMW all left and F1 survived.

“Our emphasis at the moment must be on trying to keep them in the sport. If we cannot, because it is taken out of our hands, I think F1 can survive but it is not ideal.”