F1 News: Lauda had plans of supplying Mercedes engine to Red Bull cars
With the dust settling on the death of Formula One legend Niki Lauda, another interesting revelation was recently made by Mercedes sports director Ron Meadows. During Niki's funeral service at Vienna, he revealed:
"I remember in the early years that Niki wanted to give Red Bull a Mercedes engine. His idea was that it would make us a stronger team because then we would have stronger competition."
It would have surely been a statement of intent by Mercedes. Red Bull was touted to have the best chassis on the grid. The only thing holding them back was the engine provided by Renault which was comprehensively down on power compared to Mercedes and Ferrari. Paddock wisdom and many F1 pundits had argued during this time that a Red Bull car with a Mercedes engine would dominate the field.
As it turns out, ultimately sanity prevailed at Mercedes as Meadows revealed:
"Of course we did not want that and wanted to keep the engine purely for ourselves. It took some persuasion, but in the end, he understood. I do understand that he wanted it because he wanted to make us better every day."
It does make you think how different the landscape of Formula One could have been, had Mercedes agreed to supply engines to Red Bull. Would we have had a 4-way title fight in 2017 and 2018 between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the two Red Bull drivers? Would Ricciardo have ever thought of moving to Renault in that case? And more importantly, was Red Bull going to dominate with Mercedes engines?
This little anecdote also brings to light that Niki was an out-and-out competitor, who believed his team could win and overcome any challenge. In many ways, his will to succeed and his confidence in his team's abilities are reflective in the kind of results Mercedes has produced over the last five years. It is this self-belief instilled by Niki that has driven Mercedes from being a pre-season underdog to winning the first 6 races of the season.