LOSS OF INTEREST IN F1? According to Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz (pictured) could threaten to quit F1. Image: AFP/ Olivier Scurro
Suzuka, Japan - Red Bull's billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz appears to have lost interest in Formula 1 and could go through with threats to quit, according to triple world champion and Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
Lauda, who knows his fellow-Austrian well, said Mateschitz had taken much more of a back seat than he had in the past as his two teams search for a new engine partner to replace Renault.
Merc not keen on supplying engines to Red Bull
Champions Mercedes has said they do not want to supply a rival that could threaten their dominance but Lauda said Mateschitz had no real interest in them because of a historic dislike of the brand.
Lauda said when asked at Sunday's (September 27) Japanese GP whether the Austrian might make a fresh approach to Mercedes despite ongoing talks with Ferrari.
The Austrian said: "I tell you simply, he does not do it. Mateschitz at the moment, my feeling is he's not pushing hard himself... he is not the leader like he was in the past."
Read: Mercedes await Red Bull, Renault engine news
Asked whether he felt Mateschitz had lost interest, Lauda said: "It looks like it to me, yes.
"I've known him a long time and normally he's the master of all this. But he never gets involved at the moment."
Lauda added: "It's hard for me to say from a distance but the way Didi is acting at the moment, he could consider it (pulling his teams out)."
"There is an option to stop F1"
Red Bull, drivers' and constructors' champions for four years in a row from 2010, has fallen out with underperforming Renault and is casting around for a replacement engine provider with Ferrari their only real option given Honda's woes.
However they have made clear they need a competitive engine if they are to stay in the sport.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko warned: "There is an option to stop F1. That is a scenario. If we don't have an engine that allows us to compete at the very front we will prefer to stop."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said Mercedes were approached at the 2015 British GP but recognised it was "always going to be a bit of a long shot" and Ferrari was the main focus.
Mercedes' Lauda felt however that Mateschitz was never really serious about doing a deal with the German carmaker.
Lauda said: "I know the reason. He doesn't like Mercedes. I know him very well. So Ferrari is his option now and it's up to him whether he wants to take it or not."