Under-pressure engine suppliers Renault say they are unmoved by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s threats to pull his team out of Formula One.
Mateschitz told reporters in Shanghai at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix he was frustrated by the poor performance of Renault engines used by Red Bull and was considering quitting F1 if the team’s form did not improve.
The outspoken Austrian entrepreneur’s comments add to the intense focus on Renault’s problems as they strive to keep pace with the power produced by Mercedes and Ferrari.
But ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Renault F1 engines boss Cyril Abiteboul has brushed aside the latest furore over Red Bull’s struggles and asked for more patience.
“Engine technology is not something you can easily analyse on a Sunday evening,” he said. “We need to take into account what’s happening on a Sunday, but there is already a plan of what we want to do for the rest of the season.
“There is a new specification coming with more power, as we don’t have enough power. It just increases our appetite to win, but can it increase the way that we do it?
“I’m not quite sure as engines are a long-term plan. We don’t want to rush into anything.
“There is no issue with Red Bull in the sense that they are a team that wants to be successful and has big ambitions. We understand why they are frustrated.
“But we are not just a supplier – we are racers and we are also extremely frustrated. It is all about understanding each other’s philosophy, issues and supporting each other rather than trying to drag each other down.
“Maybe we need to assess the way they are working while they have to assess our side of engine development. It’s not a short-term project and we can work with each other.”
After winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in dominant fashion from 2010-13, the Renault-powered Red Bull team was the chief rival to Mercedes, winning three races last year.
Renault also has a grand heritage as a F1 engine supplier to Williams and Benetton in the 1990s when they powered Briton Nigel Mansell, Frenchman Alain Prost and German Michael Schumacher to world titles before entering as a factory team and doing the same with Spaniard Fernando Alonso.
But as they approach this weekend’s Bahrain GP, the Paris-based outfit need to demonstrate they retain the potential to recover the engine performance Red Bull require to close the gap and claim, at least, a first podium finish this year.