Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone won’t be surprised if Red Bull billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz carries out his threat to quit the sport.
Mateschitz has expressed his dissatisfaction with the way F1 appears to be going following the fuel-flow row in Australia that resulted in Daniel Ricciardo being disqualified and the raft of new technical rules.
As far as the energy drinks magnate is concerned, money is not the issue, it is more about fairness and politics in the sport.
Mateschitz claimed there is “a clear line of acceptance from our side regarding this”, although stopped short of suggesting the Court of Appeal case against Ricciardo’s exclusion had crossed that line.
The Austrian, who also bankrolls Toro Rosso, is among those who have made clear their unhappiness with the new style of F1.
With the introduction of the 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units the cars have become slower and far less noisy, tarnishing the sport’s appeal in the view of some observers.
“Formula One should again be what it always has been – the ultimate discipline,” said Mateschitz, speaking to Austrian newspaper the Kurier.
“It is not there to set new records in fuel consumption, or so you can talk at a whisper during a race and the greatest thrill is the squealing of the tyres.
“I consider it equally absurd that we are going a second slower than last year and that the junior series GP2 is almost as fast as Formula One with a fraction of the cost.”
All of Mateschitz’s comments are worrying for Ecclestone as he can ill afford to lose one of the sport’s major players.
Asked about a possible exit, Ecclestone replied: “I wouldn’t bet my money he won’t leave the sport.
“He’s rich enough and powerful enough to make his own decisions.”