The word around the paddock this weekend in Singapore has it that VW is entering into a partnership with Red Bull Racing that would see the German auto giant not only supply the team with engines, but buy the team altogether. The move would come as a welcome development for Red Bull, which took four consecutive world championships between 2010 and 2013, but has fallen off pace over the past couple of seasons due in large part to the under-performance of its Renault engines.
The deal, which according to the report is currently being finalized, would see VW develop an all-new engine for Red Bull (and potentially for Toro Rosso and other customer teams), but the new power unit wouldn't be ready before 2018. In the interim, Red Bull would break off its current deal with Renault a year early and switch to another customer engine arrangement, with Ferrari currently rumored to be the favorite. The energy drink company that currently owns the team, in turn, would revert to a (prominent) sponsorship role - similar, it bears noting, to the role it plays with VW's World Rally Championship team.
The termination of the relationship with Red Bull could spell the end of Renault's current F1 program, unless the French manufacturer carries through with plans to reacquire its stake in the Lotus team that was once its own. The VW deal would also ostensibly put to rest the mooted arrangement that would have seen Red Bull switch from Infiniti sponsorship and Renault engines to a similar deal with Aston Martin and Mercedes.
What isn't clear at this moment is which brand Volkswagen would choose to promote with the new F1 program. Audi is speculated to be the favorite, which would likely spell the end of its Le Mans prototype endurance racing program – leaving that realm to Porsche after a solid decade and a half of dominance. The board in Stuttgart could, however, opt to hand the opportunity to one of its other brands, including Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda, or the Volkswagen brand itself.
The news comes from not only from the BBC, but from its analyst Eddie Jordan – a man who knows a thing or two about running an F1 team... and selling one. Jordan ran his eponymous grand prix team from 1991 through 2005. The team won a handful of races despite its underdog status, then sold out to Midland, which then became Spyker before transforming once again into the Force India team we know today.