• Ecclestone backs call for equalisation
ENGINE PROBLEMS: Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says engines must get another look. Image: AFP / Christof Stache.
• Give manufacturers more flexibility
• Marko suggests Red Bull rethink
LONDON, England - Formula 1's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has backed Red Bull's call for action to rein in Mercedes' engine advantage and make races more competitive after a one-sided start to the season.
However, the 84-year-old played down talk of the former champions walking away from a sport it dominated only recently.
"The team is absolutely 100% right," Ecclestone said on Monday (March 16) when asked about Red Bull team principal Christian Horner's statement that the governing International Automobile Federation should apply an "equalisation mechanism" to narrow the gap.
"There is a rule that I think (former president) Max (Mosley) put in when he was there... that a particular team or engine supplier did something magic - which Mercedes has done - the federation can level-up things.
"Mercedes has done a first-class job which everybody acknowledges."
Ecclestone said it was not a case of doing everything possible to stop Mercedes but simply to allow other manufacturers more flexibility.
"What we should have done was freeze the Mercedes engine and leave everybody else to do what they wanted so they could have caught up," he suggested. "We should support the federation to make changes."
Under a complicated system of tokens, manufacturers can make limited changes to their engines during a season but not wholesale revisions.
Renault-powered Red Bull has been frustrated by its inability to keep up with Mercedes which dominated Formula 1 in 2014 and cruised to an easy 1-2 in Sunday's season-opening Australian GP.
Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko suggested his team, which won four championships in a row before being left in Mercedes' slipstream, might pull out if billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz lost interest.
"We will evaluate the situation again as every year and look into costs and revenue. If we are totally dissatisfied we could contemplate an F1 exit," he told German-speaking media. "Yes, the danger is there that Mateschitz loses his passion for F1."
Ecclestone pointed out that Red Bull had committed to at least 2020 but recognised the risk. "Whether they will, who knows?," he said. "Dieter is a sporting guy and I don't think he'll stop because he's being beaten. He's more likely to stop if he were winning."
Red Bull made a dismal start to the season with Daniel Ricciardo sixth and lapped in his home race. New Russian team mate Daniil Kvyat withdrew before the start with a failed gearbox.
Horner said the rules had changed constantly when Red Bull was winning to give others a chance.
"Double diffusers were banned, exhausts were moved, flexible bodywork was banned, engine mapping was changed mid-season - anything was done to pull us back," he said.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff accused Red Bull of moaning because it was losing.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.