PUZZLED: Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo seems despondent after leaving the pits lane. Image: AP / Joshua Paul
VIENNA, Austria - Red Bull fizzy drinks company owner Dietrich Mateschitz says the company will quit Formula 1 if engine supplier Renault doesn't build "a competitive" engine.
Mateschitz told the Austria Press Agency: "We'll only stay in Formula 1 if we have a competitive team and we need a competitive power unit for that. If we can't have one that can race with the best car and the best drivers, we still have no chance of victory."
Mateschitz didn't mention a time frame for improvement. Renault's contract is signed to the end of 2016.
LOST DOMINANT POSITION
"The problem is, we can't control it," the Austrian billionaire said, ruling out the option of Red Bull starting to build its own engine. "We're not a car manufacturer. We rely on Renault to close the gap to Ferrari and, above all, Mercedes."
Red Bull won the F1 Drivers' and Constructors' titles from 2010-13 with Renault. Despite three wins by Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 it lost its dominant position to Mercedes after the introduction of turbocharged hybrid engines.
Mateschitz' comments came only weeks after the company's motorsport chief, Helmut Marko, started a debate about Red Bull's future after a disappointing showing in the season-opening race in Australia: Ricciardo was seventh, Daniil Kyvat 13th.
Red Bull improved in the next event in Malaysia: Ricciardo and Kyvat were fourth and fifth. The next race will be in China on Sunday (April 12).
There are hardly any alternatives to Renault for the England-based Red Bull team. Being rivals for the championship, Mercedes and Ferrari were excluded as partners: Honda has an exclusive deal with McLaren.
"Of course Renault can also weigh its options, including a pull-out," Mateschitz said. "As a manufacturer, it's your task to deliver a competitive power unit. If you can do that, it's great. If, for whatever reason, you can't, you should pull out.
"Then the consequences for us would be clear, too."
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