Red Bull’s reasons for dropping out: Who should come to Ekström?
Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko reveals the reasons for the end of sponsorship in the DTM – After Mattias Ekströms’ resignation “no driver imposed himself”.
For the first time since 2002 there will be no car in Red Bull design in the DTM. With the retirement of Audi driver Mattias Ekström, Red Bull also retired as a sponsor of the German touring car series. Marco Wittmann’s BMW, which was on the road in the Red Bull blue car in 2016 and 2017, will also no longer be painted in the colours of the Austrian energy drink brand this season. In an interview with ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko explains the reasons for the withdrawal from the DTM: “That was the commitment with Ekström that ran for many years”.
After the Swede’s resignation, no driver “forced himself” to follow in the footsteps of “Ekis”, says the 74-year-old: “And when I got involved with BMW, the cost-benefit calculation simply didn’t work out” Marko alludes to the fact that the drivers are too unknown in the DTM and have no rough edges. Real guys like Ekström, who doesn’t mince his words and openly express his opinion, are rather rare. Therefore the advertising effectiveness of the pilots is rather low.
“I don’t want to offend any DTM driver, but nobody would recognize them on the road,” says Marko, pointing a finger at the car manufacturers:”This is probably also a mistake on the part of the manufacturers that they attach so much importance to their brand policy, although the spectator wants to see the driver as a hero. Only then comes the product.”
The Red Bull motorsport consultant believes that the marketing potential of the players could be increased with the increasing appeal of the series:”It is now Gerhard Berger’s task to create an atmosphere in which the drivers are once again known.
BWT: Formula 2 instead of DTM
BWT is another sponsor leaving the DTM stage. The Austrian company had been a Mercedes partner since 2015. Last year, Lucas Auer and Edoardo Mortara’s cars were branded in a striking”Pink Panther” design:”We reevaluated our motorsport commitment. After the expiry of the contract with Mercedes as of 31 December 2009, we will continue to use the Mercedes brand. December 2017 is now fully focused on Formula 1 and its supporting programme”, BWT says.
In other words: In addition to the Formula 1 racing team Force India, the Formula 2 team Arden will also be supported this year by young driver Maximilian Günther from BWT. Walter Lechner’s Porsche Supercup team also uses two pink racers. Both racing series are part of the supporting programme of the top class.
“BWT has opted for other activities in the sports sector,” Mercedes DTM team boss Ulrich Fritz told ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, regretting the end of the cooperation: “We had a very good partnership for over three years. I think we were even the ones who got BWT into motorsport at all. There’s no bad blood. It’s normal to want to try something else after a while – you have to respect that.”
Whether Red Bull and BWT will return to the DTM as sponsors is currently unclear. The design of the former Mercedes “Pink Panther” and the paintwork of the Audi of DTM newcomer Robin Frijns, who will take over Ekström’s cockpit, have not yet been determined. The vehicle designs of Audi and Mercedes have yet to be presented.