F1: Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz warns team could quit after driver Daniel Ricciardo's Australian Grand Prix exclusion
Ricciardo finished an impressive second on debut for Red Bull before he was disqualified for a fuel-flow irregularity, which has led Red Bull to appeal the decision and Mateschitz to question the sport's future
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has revealed that the on-going appeal over Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification at the Australian Grand Prix has led him to consider whether Formula One is still meeting his needs or not, issuing fears the four-time consecutive constructors’ champions could pull out of the sport.
Ricciardo put in an impressive performance to salvage a second-place finish in Melbourne in front of his home fans, only to be disqualified six hours after taking the chequered flag for an alleged fuel-flow transgression.
Mateschitz, who runs the energy drink company, has said that the future relationship between Red Bull and F1 has more “to do with sportsmanship and political influence” rather than the financial rewards or costs.
The team are visibly angry with the decision to exclude the Australian driver, with an appeal hearing set for April 14 to determine whether Ricciardo will be reinstated to the standings, while the belief is that Mateschitz has not looked favourably on the term “cheating” being associated with his company.
Speaking to Viennese newspaper Kurier, Mateschitz was quizzed on whether his future plans involved a long-term commitment to F1.
“The question is not so much about whether it makes economic sense, but more to do with the sporting value, political influence and the like,” said Mateschitz, who has developed a liking of staying out of the limelight.
“We have had it all but from our perspective there is a clear limit to what we can accept.”
Mateschitz added that he hopes to prove that the fuel-flow sensor supplied by the FIA has been inaccurate throughout pre-season testing, where Red Bull suffered widespread technical hitches and reliability problems that continued into the season-opener at Albert Park through Sebastian Vettel’s early retirement.
“The fact is that the federation's sensor has given inaccurate values since the beginning of the winter tests. We can prove that we were within the limits,” Mateschitz stressed.
The Austrian was also critical in the noise – or lack of – coming from this season’s new turbo-charged V6 engines, which has sparked a row between Australia GP chairman Ron Walker and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone over fears races could begin to leave the sport.
Ecclestone has been highly critical of plans to bring in the new engines since they were approved in 2011, and fans were shocked with how quiet the cars were last Sunday, compared to the roaring V8’s, V10’s and V12’s of recent years.
“You have to make F1 like it used to be - the top discipline of motorsports,” Mateschiz argued.”
“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.”
The owner has interests in other sports as well as F1, which includes football teams Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls, as well as a dominating presence in extreme sports such as their X-Fighters motocross and the Red Bull Air Race series.
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