Founded in 2005, the Austrian energy-drink branded Formula 1 team have recently brought the fight to Mercedes in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship in the final year of the turbo-hybrid era before the new regulations come in place for 2022. With multiple race wins, podiums and Championships under their belt, I want to take a brief look at the history behind this team who could be winning at least one of the Championships this year.
In 16 seasons since they first began competing in F1, [to date of publication] Red Bull Racing has claimed four double-World Championships, 70 race wins, 197 podiums, 73 fastest laps with over 5334 points overall, and counting!
With the second half of the 2021 season still to go, and Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez bringing the fight to Mercedes, the team could see their first Drivers and Constructors’ Championship since 2011.
So, let’s take a look at their journey in F1 over the past 16 years.
After purchasing the Jaguar Racing team in September 2004, Red Bull Racing joined the Formula 1 World Championship, after having been a sponsor for Arrows and Sauber. Christian Horner came on board as Team Principal, becoming the youngest Team Principal for an F1 team so far, and a driver lineup of David Coulthard and Christian Klein providing a mix of experience and young talent.
In an impressive first year with the team, they finished their inaugural season in seventh place. Coulthard had multiple top 10 finishes and was even able to challenge for podium finishes in the team’s opening season, providing a lot of promise for the following season and years to come.
Image Credit: f1.com
In their second season, Red Bull gained a Ferrari engine to their RB2 and after an exciting opening season, the team had high hopes to keep going from strength to strength.
Experienced Coulthard earned Red Bull’s first podium finish at the Monaco Grand Prix, and the team finished the season in seventh once again.
However, their second season was much more difficult than the first with multiple DNFs. They finished the season with 18 points less than ’05 and faced a growing challenge from the junior sister team, Toro Rosso.
In 2007, the team signed Australian driver Mark Webber to join Coulthard with the aim that in the next few years to come, a driver from Toro Rosso would come to replace the experienced British driver.
The team showed slow progression by coming fifth in the championship that season, and in Webber they had found a second driver who could compete hard with Coulthard.
But in 2008, the team suffered the embarrassment that their junior sister team, Toro Rosso was able to claim a race win before Red Bull, with the exciting emerging talent of German driver, Sebastian Vettel claiming his first F1 win at Monza.
Red Bull’s duo had a more successful season achieving more points in the standings, however they dropped back to seventh at the end of the season, questioning what they could do moving forward.
After impressing in Toro Rosso, Sebastian Vettel replaced retiring David Coulthard to join Mark Webber in the team.
The RB5 was now powered with a Renault engine, and with McLaren and Ferrari now struggling, Red Bull was one of the fastest cars on the grid. Vettel and Webber became a formidable force propelling the team into the big time.
Vettel scored the team’s first pole position and victory at the Chinese Grand Prix and Webber claimed his maiden victory in F1 at the Nürburgring. Both drivers scoring collectively five more wins and multiple podium finishes dominated the second part of the season. Red Bull finished runners-up to Brawn with Vettel second in the Driver’s standings and Webber in fourth, a great improvement!
Image Credit: XPBCC
This period saw Red Bull’s domination in the sport, and Vettel’s rising stardom as one of the best drivers, as both Vettel and Webber were title contenders from the beginning of the 2010 season.
With consistent podium finishes, they secured the Constructors’ Championship by the penultimate round in Brazil. Now going into the final race in Abu Dhabi, both Red Bull driver’s had a shot to become the World Champion. In the end, we saw Vettel emerging triumphant by winning the race and becoming F1’s youngest ever World Champion.
His dominance in the sport continued in 2011, winning 11 of the team’s 12 victories and became a double-World Champion with four races left in the season. The Constructors’ Championship was able decided with three races still to go as this duo looked unstoppable.
In 2012, the opening few races of the season saw seven different race winners from five different Constructors, challenging Red Bull’s dominance from the previous two seasons. However, Vettel came fighting back claiming four consecutive victories in the latter half of the season.
Vettel further went on to become the youngest triple World Champion surpassing Ayrton Senna’s record and helping claim Red Bull’s third Constructors’ Championship with Webber also.
The opening of the 2013 season appeared to be more challenging, with the RB9 not showing the promise the team had hoped for. But Vettel came back with a vengeance, setting a record-breaking nine consecutive victories securing both titles with three races to spare!
Image Credit: Red Bull
Now in the turbo-hybrid era, Daniel Ricciardo joined the now four-time World Champion Vettel in the RB10 which had seen a sizeable horsepower deficit lacking the competitive edge we had previously seen. However, it still gave Ricciardo his first three victories in F1 and beating Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship, before Vettel left the team to go to Ferrari for the 2015 season.
With Vettel’s departure from the team, Daniil Kyvat joined charming Ricciardo in their line-up, where they had to deal with further power unit issues which contribute to them slipping further down in the standings and ultimately falling out with Renault. The team could sadly only gain three podium finishes and fourth in the standings – their worst such results since 2008.
The name on everyone’s lips was rising star Max Verstappen, who came in to replace Daniil Kyvat demoting him back to Toro Rosso after the opening four races. But the 17-year-old Dutchman entered the team, claiming his maiden victory in F1 in his first-ever race with the team at the Spanish Grand Prix. Ricciardo also claimed another victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix, making Red Bull the runner’s-up in the Constructors’ Championship.
Image Credit: f1.com
Early on in the 2017 season, saw the RB13 struggle, however during the season developments, both drivers were soon back on the podium. Ricciardo managed a mid-season sequence of five top-three finishes in a row, including a victory in Baku, Azerbaijan. Later in the year with the car looking more competitive, Verstappen took two victories in Malaysia and Mexico.
The end of 2018 saw the loss of Renault for Red Bull in two ways: Ricciardo leaving for Renault and Red Bull changing engine manufacturers from Renault to Honda. But the team still had a very successful season with Ricciardo taking that redemption win in Monaco and Verstappen winning at Red Bull’s home race in Austria.
Image Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images
2019 was an interesting season to say the least, with Red Bull starting their driver line-up with Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly. Verstappen had a great start to the season winning in Austria at the Red Bull Ring again for the Austrian team and Honda’s first win since 2006. He further went on to claim two more victories, his first pole position and finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship – his best season to date. However Gasly was replaced halfway through the season by Alexander Albon from Toro Rosso, switching the drivers between the sister teams.
Verstappen and Albon returned in 2020, but with Covid-19 the world and the Formula 1 Championship were put on hold and provided us with a season like no other. Now with a shorter calendar and intense back-to-back races; the season was a strong one for Verstappen, with the Dutchman claiming a podium finish in all but one of the races he finished, whereas Albon seemed to have been struggling in the second seat of the Red Bull and didn’t retain it for 2021. Verstappen had brought the fight to Mercedes throughout the season and showed a lot of promise before the final season in the turbo-hybrid era.
This season for Red Bull has been one of their best since they were winning back-to-back Championships with Vettel. Verstappen has been on formidable form and is in the running to become World Champion by the end of the season against Lewis Hamilton. Also with the arrival of Sergio Perez to the team, has made him the perfect right-hand man for Verstappen and are fully in contention to claim their first Constructors’ Championship since 2011.
It’s a very tight battle at the top, but will Red Bull be able to be triumphant… time will tell!
Headline Image: @redbullracing Twitter
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