LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - Renault are more likely to use the Toro Rosso Formula One team to increase brand awareness than buy it from Red Bull, according to the energy drink company’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.
The Austrian told the Formula1.com website on Friday that Renault, engine partner to both teams, felt ”under-represented on the marketing side.
“So there are considerations to either buy Toro Rosso or more likely give them a yellow livery to have a better marketing platform. But of course the figures have to correspond,” he added.
Red Bull have as title sponsor the Infiniti luxury car marque owned by Nissan, Renault’s Japanese partner.
While Renault and Red Bull won four successive constructors’ and drivers’ titles between 2010 and 2013, they have been uneasy partners since the introduction of a new V6 turbo hybrid power unit in 2014.
Mercedes have emerged as the top team with their engine clearly a cut above the rest.
“We are significantly behind Mercedes. They clearly dominate,” said Marko who saw the situation lasting until the rules were changed again.
Renault and Red Bull have talked about the possibility of pulling out of the sport, and have pointed accusatory fingers at each other for failures on the track, but Marko said they had now agreed how to proceed.
“We have implemented now a system where it is clearly defined who has what responsibilities, as there have been mistakes in the past from Renault’s side as well as from our side as both companies stand for different corporate cultures,” he explained.
”Here you have basically a state-run organisation and we in the UK have highly motivated people that react immediately to any necessity.
“Add to that the problems with the test facility and there you have a situation that we have seen at the last two races. How and when we find improvement, whether this season or in 2016, is still unclear.”
Marko said the two races so far this season had been a wake-up call for Renault and they had promised a significant improvement in engine performance to close the gap on Mercedes during the course of the campaign.
“That is what we expect and what Renault has informed us with facts and figures. But this happens half a year too late,” he added. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Jimenez)