JANUARY 5, 2009
A deal worth noting
Carlin Motorsport has announced that it is switching to Volkswagen engines in Formula 3 for 2009, following the announcement that it has signed two Red Bull Junior drivers. All the Red Bull Formula 3 drivers in 2009 will run with VW power. This is part of broad-ranging deal between Red Bull and Volkswagen, which sees the Austrian drinks company funding almost all of the German car companies motorsport activities. There are also cross-marketing activities as VW brand Seat is a sponsor of the Red Bull Air Races. In the past few years Red Bull has funded the Audi DTM team, Skoda in the WRC, Seat in the World Touring Car Championship and VW's Dakar Rally operations. There has also been support for VW sister company Porsche in GrandAm and in GT3 in the past. The only major Red Bull sponsorships outside F1 and GP2 not involving VW is the deal with Citroen in the WRC, which is aimed specifically at the French market as multiple World Champion Sebastien Loeb fits the Red Bull image well and Red Bull has only been allowed to sell in France for the last six months so there is a big market to exploit.
It is thought that Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz's decision to work with Volkswagen is a careful plan to align the two firms int he hope that one day it will provide him with engines for Formula 1. VW continues to say that there is no intention of any move to F1 in the forseeable future, but with a more cost-effective F1 and the likelihood of an eventual economic upturn in the years ahead, nothing is impossible.
Volkswagen will field six cars in British F3 next season, four with Carlin and two with T-Sport. The German firm will also expand its Formula 3 Euroseries programme with Carlin joining Signature and the newly-formed Kolles and Heinz Union team, a collaboration between deposed Force India F1 boss Colin Kolles and longtime F1 driver manager Werner Heinz.