At a time leaders in the free world are calling for peace, harmony and unity, Helmut ‘Ebenezer’ Marko has gone and spoiled it all, uttering a loud “bah humbug”, or whatever its equivalent in German might be.
As Chase Carey and the gang settle down, finding it difficult to choose between Die Hard, the sing-a-long version of The Sound of Music or Elf for their Christmas entertainment, the Red Bull motorsport boss has echoed that mean old bank manager, Mr Potter, in It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Grinch, by deliberately setting out to ruin Liberty’s festive celebrations.
For Marko has warned that unless it is satisfied with the final plans for Formula One post-2020 it will consider alternatives, including Le Mans.
Of course, such threats are nothing new, and in many ways have become as traditional as the Margate episode of Only Fools and Horses or a(nother) Lynx Africa gift set from your Nan.
Indeed, all that we need now is for Christian ‘Old Spice’ Horner to voice his concern for the sport’s future and admit that a move away from F1 is possible, before adding that he blames Renault for his over-cooked turkey.
We are days away from the New Year, and as we enter 2019, despite the rhetoric, we appear to be no closer to a new Concorde Agreement, the current version expiring at the end of 2020.
Standing in its way are a number of minor matters… such as the final agreement on the regulations, a budget cap and the redistribution of the prize money, a move which will see a number of teams lose out on the various substantial bonuses that have been agreed over the years.
Of course, a cynic might suggest that Red Bull is already lining up its ducks should the switch to Honda not work out – the team having previously threatened to quit the sport when a competitive alternative to Renault couldn’t be found – however at this stage Helmut Marko insists the Austrian company’s focus is post-2020.
“We have an agreement until 2020,” the Austrian tells Motorsport.com. “As long as there is no engine regulation and no Concorde Agreement, neither Red Bull nor Honda will make a decision.
“However, we will certainly not become dependent again, as we have been in the past, when we were begging others and statements and promises were not kept,” he adds.
And the alternative?
“Stop is the option,” he replies. “Or do something else, other racing series. With the Valkyrie, Le Mans could be an option with hypercar rules. We went through with it, and it’s a sensational success. The cars were all sold out immediately. That’s another good pillar for Red Bull Technologies.”
A track version of the Valkyrie – in which Adrian Newey played a key role – was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show in March by the design guru and Horner, and a revamp of the WEC regulations for 2020 and 2021 could see hypercars replace LMP1.
Marko admits that even if Liberty was to wave its magic wand and come up with a set of proposals agreeable to all, a Le Mans programme might still be on the cards.
“If there was a cost cap in Formula 1, we would have to cut people, and we don’t necessarily want that,” he admits. “We could then use them in such projects. It still looks like you can run in the WEC at a reasonable cost with the base of our Valkyrie.
“Although Red Bull has never been to the 24 Hours, that’s something we’re thinking about,” he adds. “The main financial burden would be on Aston Martin, which is also clear, because at Le Mans the manufacturer wins. But that would fit into our concept.”
While we have heard it all before, the fact is that many within the paddock are growing increasingly concerned at the apparent lack of action in terms of F1 post-2020, that concern reflected on the stock market where shares in F1 are at their lowest for the past year.
While Marko will not have taken time out from his Christmas break to make the comments, which have clearly been saved for when they would make the most impact, the message is clear… and, talking of movies, wasn’t there a film called Valkyrie something or other… about maintaining order in the aftermath of a coup?