Todt and the question of Red Bull engines

Jean Todt (right), Chinese GP 2006

Jean Todt (right), Chinese GP 2006 

 © The Cahier Archive

Ferrari team boss Jean Todt always like to appear to be the controlling force in whatever he does but that is not always the case. The current negotiations between Ferrari and Red Bull over engines for 2007 are a good example of this. In theory there is a contract between Ferrari and Red Bull Racing but it is complicated by the fact that the deal is believed to be tripartite, involving Red Bull GmbH as the third signatory. Thus it can be argued that Red Bull has a right to move the Ferrari engines across to Scuderia Toro Rosso, which did not exist in its current form when the original deal was agreed. The bad news for Todt is that Red Bull Racing may say the right thing if asked publicly about the engines but they know that no Ferrari customer team has ever won a race in F1 and they would prefer to have Renault V8s in the cars next year. Todt was hoping to head this off by doing a twin-deal so that both Red Bull teams used Ferrari V8s next year but the Red Bull folk were having none of that and made the point by announcing that Red Bull F1 (whatever that is) had agreed a deal with Renault for 2007. The aim was clearly to switch the Ferrari engines across to Scuderia Toro Rosso and put the Renaults in the back of the Red Bull RB3s. Todt did not want that as a Renault-engined Adrian Newey chassis could be rather troublesome for Ferrari. However Todt needs to be a little careful not to insist too much because trying to force Red Bull to use Ferrari engines could backfire big time in 2008 as it is possible that both Red Bull teams - which by then will use the same chassis - would switch to Renault engines, thus doubling Ferraris problem of Newey-Renault cars. Doing a deal with Spyker gives Ferrari the chance to beef up its challenge and it makes a lot of sense for Ferrari to give the Dutch team as much help as possible - and perhaps even supply it with chassis as well at some point in the future. Todt says that the deal is not to do with road cars and that may be the case right now but it makes a lot of sense for Ferrari to increase its involvement with Spyker (and perhaps even get into a shareholding position with the main Spyker company) and thus achieve an expansion of profits without diluting the Ferrari brand. This was something that Ferrari tried (and failed to do) with Maserati.

The negotiations between Ferrari and Red Bull are thus rather more than just a question of what engines are used next year by Scuderia Toro Rosso.

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