Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has threatened to quit Formula 1, following the opening round of the season and the introduction of many technical changes during the winter period. Despite dominating the sport with Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel during the last four years, the 69-year-old Austrian has stated that there is a clear limit that can be accepted with regards to sportsmanship and political influence in the sport.
During the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne Red Bull were at the centre of the new technical changes, after local hero Daniel Ricciardo was controversially excluded from the race after being deemed to have exceeded the fuel flow limit during the 57-lap race. Although Red Bull remain adamant that they did not breach the new regulations, with the team appealing the decision in early April, Dietrich Mateschitz has expressed great dissatisfaction with the new rules and regulations which have been introduced to the sport for 2014.
“The team has lodged a protest,” explained Dietrich Mateschitz, who owns both Red Bull and Toro Rosso, to Austrian newspaper Kurier in an exclusive interview. “The fuel-flow sensor, which was given to the teams by the federation, gave divergent readings and it is inaccurate. We can prove the exact amount of fuel flow and this was always within the limits. You have to make F1 like it used to be – the top discipline of motorsports. F1 is not there to set new records in fuel consumption, nor to make it possible to have a whispered conversation during a race. It is absurd to race a lap seconds slower than last year. GP2 partially provides more racing and fighting and almost equal lap times as F1 with a small fraction of the budget.”
With many throughout the paddock also unhappy with the new era which Formula 1 has entered for the new season with 1.6L V6 turbocharged engines now powering the teams, a threat to leave the sport from Red Bull will only fan the flames of discontent within the sport. When asked what would make the Milton Keynes-based outfit controversially walk away from the sport it has so fiercely dominated in recent years, Dietrich Mateschitz explained that political influence would certainly be one of the key factors.
“The question is not so much whether it makes economic sense but the reasons would be to do with sportsmanship, political influence, and so on,” continued Mateschitz in the exclusive interview. “In these issues there is a clear limit to what we can accept.”
Although the Austrian businessman did not elaborate as to whether such “limits” had already been overstepped, Red Bull will be striving for gains on-track when the sport reconvenes this weekend around the Sepang International Circuit for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Last year the second race of the season was the venue for the controversial “Multi 21” saga, where Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders and overtook Mark Webber to secure victory. With the outfit’s pace still unknown due to the many variables including their fuel flow legality and the competitiveness of their Renault engines, it seems Red Bull could remain in the limelight for the foreseeable future.
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