A PR nightmare is blowing up ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix as a war of words between Renault and Red Bull rages over performance issues.
As Mercedes demonstrated that the likelihood that their dominance is set to continue into the 2015 season, engine manufacturer Renault announced yesterday that it is unlikely that they will be able to offer a race winning power unit in 2015.
Yet today a major publicity drama has unfurled as Red Bull Racing have come under attack from Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul, who has accused the team of lying. In a bitter war of words, Adrian Newey has been singled out by Abiteboul, claiming that the car’s lack of pace is the result of design and aerodynamic issues, and that the team has unfairly pinned all of its problems on the manufacturer.
Speaking to Auto Hebdo, Abiteboul commented: “It’s hard to have a partner who lies. Adrian [Newey] is a charming gentleman and an outstanding engineer, but he spent his life in criticising his engine suppliers. He’s too old to change.”
He has subsequently issued this tweet, which does not bode well for public relations between the two companies.
Clearly the relationship has completely broken down and Renault felt that it needed to address the issue in public, but this all feels a bit too knee-jerk and surely the outcome of this can only be detrimental on all parties involved.
A poll undertaken by The Telegraph over the past hour shows that the majority of supporters lay the blame for Red Bull’s poor performance in Australia at the feet of the team’s management, with few believing Adrian Newey to be at fault (accurate as of 13.55 25/03/15)
Furthermore, the spate has only served to fuel rumours of an Audi buy-in at Red Bull, which have been running rampant on social media in recent weeks.
This is the second major PR disaster for an F1 team in as many weeks, following on from Sauber’s off-track battle with Giedo van der Garde. It will be interesting to see when F1 and the FIA step in and stop this negative press impacting on the reputation of the Formula 1 brand.