Oracle Red Bull Racing
After a dominant year the team are no longer hunting but are the hunted.
This past year, Red Bull was completely dominant. As a team they won 17 out of the season’s 22 races, got first and third in the World Driver’s Championship and won the World Constructor’s Championship. They are a team that is not unfamiliar with being the top dog and are hoping to not only replicate their past success, but exceed it.
1995-2008 | Red Bull was first seen on the grid with Sauber as a sponsor from 1995-2005. The deal was ended when Red Bull took over the Jaguar team with it becoming Red Bull Racing. The team was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz (co-founder of Red Bull GmbH), Helmut Marko (team advisor), and Christian Horner (team principal). For the first four years the team ran in the midfield, ending in 7th (2005-2006, 2008) and fifth (2007) in the Constructor’s Championship.
2009-2013 | During this time the team had both a championship worthy car and drivers. Mark Webber had been with the team since 2007 and Sebastian Vettel was promoted from Toro Rosso. They were both contenders for multiple driver’s championships and tensions escalated on multiple occasions. Notably during Malaysia 2013 when Vettel ignored the team order ‘multi 21’ to hold position. Ultimately Vettel came away with 4 driver’s championships (2010-2013), with the team’s web page describing his 2013 post-summer-break performance as a ‘rampage’. Tragically for Webber he was destined to always be the bridesmaid but never the bride and left the team at the end of 2013. Four Constructor’s Championships were also won during this time (2010-2013).
2014-2019 | A change in regulations presented a challenge for the team. Their car wasn’t as competitive and their Renault engine lacked reliability and performance. They won a number of races but couldn’t secure any championship victories. This era was also marked by the number of seat shuffles between Red Bull and its junior team Toro Rosso. Daniel Ricciardo joined the team in 2014 with Sebastian Vettel departing at the end of that same year. Danill Kyvyat was promoted from Toro Rosso in 2015, and seat swapped with Max Verstappen at the start of 2016. After Ricciardo departed (2018) Pierre Gasly was promoted and 12 races later seat swapped with Alex Albon (2019).
2020-2022 | The current era marks Red Bull’s return to the very front of the grid, as they first competed for and now defend titles. While Verstappen had always been known to be a talent, 2020 was the year he began to achieve notable results. He was on the podium in every race he finished (12/17), DNF-ing the rest. At the end of the year Alex Albon was demoted to reserve/test driver with Sergio Perez joining as the second full time driver. 2021 was a wild year with Verstappen and Hamilton playing a never ending game of chicken with each other, and frequently colliding. The title was decided at the final race of the season, on the final lap, when a misapplication of the safety car rules allowed Verstappen to close the gap to Hamilton and win.
When Max Verstappen first entered Formula 1 he was 17 (2014). He joined Toro Rosso and was promoted to Red Bull at the start of 2016. He holds the record for being the youngest on debut and youngest Grand Prix winner. The start of his career was marked by rash, somewhat aggressive driving. As he matured off-track he became move level-headed behind the wheel and is more cool and collected now. He has won 35 races, got 20 poles, 77 podiums and is a two time World Champion.
Sergio Perez first joined the grid in 2011 with Sauber. He was with McLaren in 2013, Sahara Force India from 2014-2018 and stayed with the team when they changed ownership to Racing Point till 2020 before joining Red Bull in 2021. He won his first race in 2020 at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He has since won three other races and came in third in the 2022 Driver’s Championship.
Last year the team was in top form, winning both Championships by notable margins. But going into this season, they’ll have the added challenge of the penalties from breaching the cost cap which reduces their win tunnel time by 10% and a 7 million dollar fine. There may also be tensions remaining between the drivers who had choice words over the radio at the end of the Brazil GP when team orders weren’t followed (I think I’ve seen this film before). While they and the team have stated that they have resolved the issue there is no guarantee that this isn’t just the public messaging.
Red Bull Racing know what success is and certainly have a leg up on their competitors with the current regulations and cars. With how things ended last year, the titles seem like theirs to loose.
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom