Milton Keynes-based Red Bull Racing have now clinched a hat-trick of Constructors Championship victories back to back and with Sebastian Vettel looking to accomplish the same feat this weekend in Brazil this form really does underline the growing strength of the team and its operations over the past few seasons. It is hard to imagine that seven years ago, when the energy drink conglomerate acquired what was the remains of Jaguar, the team would become the top team in Formula One in less than a decade.
Even in their debut season in 2005 Red Bull showed lots of potential running a car that was based loosely off a 2004 Jaguar. in the very first race of the season David Coulthard finished a strong fourth at the first time of asking throughout the course of the season would show good pace particularly on high fuel loads allowing both himself and team-mate Christian Klien to jump those who had pitted earlier.
The team has been seen as a breath of fresh air in the paddock in terms of the way they promote themselves and go racing. The Red Bulletin magazine first started appearing in the paddock dedicated to goings on inside the team and the Formula One world and has since become a global product. Mark Webber quoted a few years ago that for PR events he would end up going jet ski-ing “instead of going to talk to people that don’t want to see him” and the team often plays music in the garages very similar to the trend started by Benetton in the 1980′s.
One man responsible for having brought Red Bull up through the ranks in just seven short years is Christian Horner, a once talented rising star in the lower Formulae during the 1990′s having only started in Go-Karts at the age of 13. When his results in Formula 3000 started to dry up Horner made the difficult decision to step away from his racing career and instead go into team ownership by acquiring his former team Arden Racing, a decision that has subsequently brought more success than what might have been.
During the 2002 – 2004 seasons Horner’s management began to show as the Arden team racked up three consecutive Championships for Tomáš Enge, prior to being demoted to third after failing a drugs test, Björn Wirdheim, not before embarrassingly throwing away a victory in Monaco after slowing down next to the team’s pit box thinking he’d already crossed the line only to be passed before he actually got to it, and Vitantonio Liuzzi. After Formula 3000 was scrapped at the end of the 2004 season Horner was promoted into Formula One and immediately made Team Principal of the newly formed Red Bull Racing, making him the youngest Team Principal in the Sport at the time.
Along the way Horner has made some key decisions to get the team to where it stands now and one of the most crucial ones was the signing of Adrian Newey to join the team in 2006. Whilst Newey wasn’t able to have much influence on a season where the team struggled some-what with the Ferrari engines he had a big say in the decision to use Renault engines from 2007 onwards. The Renault V8 had a lower centre of gravity compared to the Ferrari V8 which allowed for better handling.
The team has operated very strongly in recent years with good tactical decisions, especially in the heat of a safety car period, smooth and quick pit stops, the ability for Adrian Newey and the technical team to push the limits of the regulations staring controversy in the eye and an almost unrivalled development rate which has been most noticeable this season. At the beginning of the year the RB8 was the car that was missing the now banned exhaust-blown-diffusers more than any other team with both Vettel and Webber struggling to come to terms with not being able to carry as much speed through the corners. As a result of intensive development work and a breakthrough of the team’s own interpretation of the ‘Super-DRS’ the car has gone from a struggler to a winner, a car that most other drivers would dream of getting behind the wheel of.
The team’s long term future of the sport is often brought into question by some sceptics who feel that when the time comes that either Vettel moves on, with many rumours about him going to Ferrari still doing the rounds, or the team’s success dries up Red Bull will pull the plug and sell the team on very much alike to Benetton’s drop from the top in the late 1990′s. These of course are different times and both respective franchises are in different industries, with Benetton being a wool company, there are different circumstances too as Benetton not only lost Michael Schumacher but many of the key personnel that took them to Championship glory such as Rory Bryne and Ross Brawn. Internal politics at Benetton didn’t help matters either with numerous changes of management during this period as well before selling out to Renault. Red Bull on the other hand have recently shown a substantial commitment to Motorsport and more so by taking over as the troubled World Rally Championship’s title sponsor.
Even when Vettel does eventually move on the team will aim to have a natural successor to him in the form of the Red Bull ‘Young Drivers Scheme’, with Portugal’s Antonio Felix Da Costa looking more and more the perfect man to step into Vettel’s boots at Red Bull when the time comes. With Red Bull having state of the art facilities, resources and established systems in place the team will remain a very attractive proposition for any top driver either looking for success or a new challenge, last year Lewis Hamilton was seen in talks with Christian Horner during a time when all was not well between himself and McLaren and should his ambitious move to Mercedes not work out even he could one day end up being given an opportunity by Red Bull.
‘Mark Webber wants new Red Bull contract’, DueMotori, (10/03/08, accessed: 21/11/12), http://m.duemotori.com/news/f1/25796_Mark_Webber_wants_new_Red_Bull_contract.php.