SAW IT COMING: Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has said he was not surprised nor disappointed by Sebastian Vettel's decision to leave the team. Image: AFP
SALZBURG, Austria - Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has told DPA in his first public remarks on four-times World champion Sebastian Vettel's departure that he did not stop him from leaving at the end of the 2014 season and also that he was neither surprised nor disappointed by the driver's decision.
Mateschitz, 70, told DPA in an e-mail interview that the team knew Vettel was in talks with others and that he had a right to seek a new challenge. In addition, the team will save a lot of money as Russian newcomer Daniil Kvyat will earn far less than the four-times reigning World champion, Mateschitz said.
Vettel informed Mateschitz via phone last Friday, October 3, and he and the team went public the next day with the news that he will leave Red Bull after six seasons despite a contract until 2016. He joined Red Bull in 2009 from sister team Toro Rosso and they won four Drivers' and Constructors' titles in a row between 2010 and 2013.
'A NEW CHALLENGE'
The German is tipped to join Ferrari as Fernando Alonso appears set to leave the Italian team for McLaren.
Mateschitz said: "We knew that he was in talks, and I also believe that, despite all loyalty, it's right for a racing driver to seek a new challenge."
He said that Red Bull's struggle this season with rule changes and the Renault power unit also contributed.
"We didn't try (to make him stay), and I wouldn't have considered it right. Especially under the current conditions. Confronted with Red Bull's handicap with the current power unit you don't need a four-times World champion who could at best be 'best of the rest,' given Mercedes' current dominance."
Mateschitz also said the promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, just as Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in the past, was "a huge upgrade" for the talented Kvyat.
"So we neither considered it just nor necessary to intervene, particularly because this switch also brings huge financial savings. I also believe that the upcoming switches will contribute a lot to excitement in the next F1 season," he said.
Mateschitz dismissed critics who suggest that Vettel is running away after the first below-par season as people "who don't really know how the F1 circus works."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Russian GP this weekend.