Oh, rumor mill, we love you so. Either a deal with Aston Martin will finally bring Formula One’s Red Bull Racing a functional power unit, or it’s a rumor so crazy that it will allow us to indulge in a time-honored Independence Day tradition: having a chuckle at Britain’s expense.
Either way, Brit-pub Autocar reports that Aston Martin is in talks with Red Bull Racing not just to be a brand partner on the car (akin to Infiniti at the moment), but to also work a sweet deal for the team to gain the coveted Mercedes power units. Mercedes would become Red Bull’s official engine partner, while Aston Martin would be a “technical partner” with branding on the cars themselves.
What’s the connection? Mercedes owns 5% of Aston Martin, and according to Autocar, is more than happy to pick up another customer team. Autocar compares the potential deal to the Mercedes-powered Lotus Formula One cars: Mercedes (allegedly) doesn’t consider Aston Martin a road car sales competitor, so they’re fine with this deal.
(Never mind that the AMG GT and the Vantage sort of play to the same crowd. Nope. The rumor mill alleges that they don’t compete.)
Autocar credits two of Aston Martin’s ex-Nissan powers-that-be as the ones who brokered the deal: CEO Andy Palmer and Director of Marketing and Communications Simon Sproule. These two were instrumental in scoring Red Bull Racing’s long-term branding for Nissan’s fancypants brand Infiniti while the car is powered by Renault engines. Nissan and Renault are in a corporate alliance, hence the current branding.
How would a boutique sportscar manufacturer afford that sort of thing? It didn’t exactly seem sustainable for Caterham. There’s Lotus, but there’s always rumors of Lotus becoming Something Else F1 Team because it’s a buttload of money to brand an F1 team. Is scoring Red Bull a power unit that actually works worth enough to bring sponsorship costs down to what Aston Martin could afford? We’re not sure.
Then again, Red Bull Racing used to be the Jaguar Racing team, so anything’s possible. Red Bull Racing’s contract with Renault lasts through the end of 2016, but the team has been openly disgruntled about how uncompetitive the Renault power units are.
Of course, Autocar said that Aston Martin refused to comment on the matter. (Of course they did.) I haven’t heard a peep out of Red Bull, either, for that matter, nor did my earlier Red-Bull-fueled belch have any special voices in it that would lead me to believe one way or the other.
Last week, it was Ferrari who was the rumored replacement power unit du jour. This week, it’s a convoluted Aston Martin/Mercedes scheme. Won’t Red Bull just pick one so we can see them become at least sort of competitive again?
Photo credits: Getty Images
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