With Red Bull Racing threatening to quit Formula 1, Rory Reid wonders whether they cared about the sport in the first place.
I’ve never been a true fan of Red Bull. The drink’s fine, but the Formula One racing team has never really struck a chord with me. They’ve been hugely successful, certainly, but I’m surely not alone in thinking they’re a drinks company first and a sporting entity second.
My opinion was reinforced recently when Dr Helmut Marko, the team’s motorsport advisor, threatened Red Bull Racing would quit F1 unless their engine supplier, Renault, gave them a better engine, or another manufacturer, Audi, joined forces with them.
In the same week, Red Bull Racing’s team principal, Christian Horner, revealed his team’s performance at the recent Spanish grand prix was more akin to doing pointless laps than racing, due to the fact they weren’t at the front.
Both these statements (and the many similar comments from Red Bull that preceded these) smack of poor sportsmanship. Indeed, it reveals Red Bull’s passion for the sport is questionable, and comes a dismal second to their passion looking good.
“Imagine if Liverpool football club quit the sport because they hadn’t won a trophy in a few years?”Imagine how it would look if Liverpool football club, one of the biggest teams in its sport, quit football because they hadn’t won a trophy in a few years? Or if any sprinter that has faced Usain Bolt in the last eight years decided they were going to hang up their boots? What would we say to Andy Murray if he decided he couldn’t be bothered to play if he wasn’t winning grand slam titles?
We’d say to them exactly what I say to Red Bull Racing; stop throwing your toys out of the pram, dig in, compete and try harder.
Every true sportsman will tell you that winning is everything, and that second place is basically the first loser, but no true competitor shies away from the competition itself when things don’t go their way. The very concept of sport requires those who take part to fight their way to the top, accepting that they might win some and lose some.
Red Bull Racing know all too well what it’s like to be at the summit. The team dominated F1 for four years between 2010 and 2013. So they should also know that their attitude isn’t in the best interests of F1. After all if, back in Red Bull Racing’s glory years, their rivals took the approach they’re threatening to now and quit because they weren’t competitive then there would be no sport for Red Bull Racing to win.
Happily, Red Bull’s rivals take a different tact. Scuderia Ferrari haven’t won a constructors’ championship since 2008. McLaren not since 1998. Williams Martini Racing haven’t lifted the trophy since 1997. And yet these teams turn up every second weekend to compete as their fans roar them on in the hope they might secure a result.
F1, like all sports, needs winners as well as losers, and nobody should enter a sport unless they’re willing to take a few wooden spoons to go with their trophies and champagne.
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