Lauda fears Red Bull owner has lost interest in F1

Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:47pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Red Bull's billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz appears to have lost interest in Formula One and could go through with threats to quit, according to triple world champion and Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.

Lauda, who knows his fellow-Austrian well, said Mateschitz had taken much more of a back seat than he had in the past as his two teams search for a new engine partner to replace Renault.

Champions Mercedes have said they do not want to supply a rival that could threaten their dominance but Lauda said Mateschitz had no real interest in them because of a historic dislike of the brand.

"I tell you simply, he does not do it," he said when asked at the Japanese Grand Prix whether the Austrian might make a fresh approach to Mercedes despite ongoing talks with Ferrari.

"Mateschitz at the moment, my feeling is he’s not pushing hard himself... he is not the leader like he was in the past."

Asked whether he felt Mateschitz had lost interest, Lauda agreed: "It looks like it to me, yes," he said. "I've known him a long time and normally he’s the master of all this. But he never gets involved at the moment.

"It’s hard for me to say from a distance but the way Didi is acting at the moment, he could consider it (pulling his teams out)," he added.

Red Bull, drivers' and constructors' champions for four years in a row from 2010, have fallen out with underperforming Renault and are casting around for a replacement engine provider with Ferrari their only real option given Honda's woes.   Continued...

Former Formula One driver Niki Lauda of Germany is pictured speaking though a Mercedes logo during testing session at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, near Barcelona February 20, 2015.  REUTERS/Albert Gea