Life runs in cycles. Eighty years ago, there was a great recession, a reset of the system, if you like. But, that didn’t stop Grand Prix racing, which had been growing for thirty years, from reaching its zenith. The heydays of the 1930s included Daimler-Benz, Auto Union, Ferrari. Could we see these 3 names battling it out once more, after the latest great recession?
Audi is basically the successor to Auto Union (one of the circles in the logo, now using it outright), and have been rumoured to return to the top level of Grand Prix racing, Formula 1, in 2017, with Ross Brawn at the helm. Although it’s likely that there is nothing of substance behind this latest rumour, it gives us a tantalising prospect to consider, nevertheless.
It’s felt that the VW group won’t enter F1 until it brushes up its image at least, and that means once Bernie Ecclestone is no longer CEO. Given that he is in his mid-80s, and CVC want to cash out, this could happen in the next few years, by which point they could be primed to take on Mercedes, just like in the 1930s. Nico Hulkenberg may be approaching his peak by then, and he has just announced he will drive for Audi’s sister marque Porsche, at Le Mans in 2015.
Audi also have a close association with Red Bull, their sponsor in DTM. What better way to join F1, than to take over the successful Red Bull team? They could then move upstairs and take over the running of the cash cow that is F1, becoming the jewel in its extreme sports brand marketing. Red Bull F1 – at the Red Bull Ring; Turnover should break $2bn in no time.
‘Red Bull Audi’ would be a formidable team to go up against, along with Mercedes-Benz. Ferrari is primed for an IPO; McLaren is partnering up with Honda to compete. These manufacturers also lack the junior teams that Toro Rosso and increasingly Williams are becoming, making it harder for their junior talents to break through. Toro Rosso could become the Audi junior team, named Bugatti, or even Lamborghini.
Helmut Marko meanwhile, head of the Red Bull junior team, hasn’t added anyone new to the program since Max Verstappen, to represent the future of the scheme. Perhaps there is no need to invest further, if an exit plan already exists? Could we see another German Grand Prix racing domination, even if now based in the UK, for some time to come?