FEBRUARY 1, 2014
Mateschitz blames Renault, not team, for Red Bull crisis
Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is keeping his calm, despite a nightmarish opening test of 2014 for the reigning world champions Red Bull.
While key Mercedes and Ferrari-powered rivals got up to speed at Jerez with their radical new V6, turbo and energy-recovery-powered cars, Red Bull struggled to run the RB10 with Renault issues and chassis cooling problems, ultimately collecting a meagre tally of barely 20 laps for the entire four-day test.
Energy drink magnate and Austrian billionaire Mateschitz, however, sounded calm as he spoke to the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.
"These were the more-or-less expected teething problems with a new engine, which was being tested for the first time on a track," he said.
Red Bull and Renault now have two weeks to solve the issues for the next test, in Bahrain, but Mateschitz said it is already clear the RB10 is a good car.
"Yes, it is very positive," he said, "because it is more than just 'state of the art' again, as can be seen in the details.
"The moment of truth will come at the first race in Melbourne," Mateschitz insisted.
He denied that recent high-profile staff departures, like aerodynamics chief Peter Prodromou's switch to McLaren, have contributed to the problem.
"Our current problems are not with the team," he said, "but in the engine area. The team has more than excellent know-how."
Mateschitz admitted, however, that Mercedes and Ferrari will be powerful rivals in 2014, after four consecutive seasons of Renault-powered Red Bull dominance.
"Ferrari has made enormous efforts during the winter," he said, "and Mercedes seems to have done a very good job with the motor.
"But Renault is coming again, the only question is when."
Mateschitz seemed to acknowledge, therefore, that Red Bull's current deficit could still be an issue when the F1 circus travels to Melbourne in March.
"A deficit at the beginning of the season does not automatically mean that the world title is lost," he said. "Even if you come from behind, you still have a chance."
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