The Red Bull’s Legend – Sebastian Vettel

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Red Bull currently have four constructors titles and four drivers titles, those four titles are all courtesy of one driver, Sebastian Vettel. The German’s relationship with the team begun in 1998 at the age of 11, when he signed to their junior team. His success in the junior formulae acted as a precursor to his career at the top table as he won the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2001.

He then went on to win the 2004 German Formula BMW Championship, with a whopping 18 wins from 20 victories. This opened up his door to F1 as he was rewarded with a test in the Williams FW27. While he was winning these cups in the junior categories, in Formula One another German was taking all the plaudits. As Vettel won 18 from 20 races in 2004, Michael Schumacher was taking his seventh world championship in his most dominant season. He took 13 wins from 18 races and took his final championship win.

Vettel begun testing for the BMW Sauber Formula One team in 2006, while participating in the F3 Euroseries, coming second to Paul Di Resta. 2007 saw him get his big break, while racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Following Robert Kubica’s horror smash at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel was called up to replace him for the US Grand Prix. He qualified seventh and finished eighth, taking his first point and becoming the youngest point scorer in history, aged 19 years and 349 days.

BMW released Vettel so that he could join the Scuderia Toro Rosso team for the remainder of the 2007 season, replacing Scott Speed. This is where his journey to Red Bull stardom began. Following a few impressive results, his big break came at the Italian Grand Prix in 2008. He qualified on pole in horrendous conditions, becoming the youngest polesitter, which he then masterfully translated into his and Toro Rosso’s first win. He broke Fernando Alonso’s record set at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix of youngest winner.

For 2009, Red Bull promoted Vettel to their team alongside Mark Webber, and the rest, as they say, is history. He took Red Bull’s first win at the Chinese Grand Prix, with team mate Mark Webber in second. He took four wins that season and finished second in the championship to Jenson Button in the dominant Brawn.

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2010 however, was an interesting year for the team, at the Turkish Grand Prix, while challenging Webber for the lead, the pair collided, putting Vettel out of the race, and the relationship turned sour from that moment on. Both were fighting for the championship come the end of the season, with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso joining them, in a winner takes all clash at Abu Dhabi. He took pole and won the race, taking his first championship, following in the footsteps of John Surtees in 1964 and James Hunt in 1976 in not leading the championship at any point during the season.

2011 was another story, he was dominant, taking 11 wins from 19 races, showing his driving prowess and the newly found power of Red Bull in Formula One. The Austrian team had beaten the heavyweights of McLaren and Ferrari in becoming the top team in the sport. Vettel was quickly becoming known as one of the best drivers in the sport, taking record after record. 2012 saw him take his third consecutive title, emulating Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher in the process.

He was in a battle with Fernando Alonso, again, and it went down to the final race in Brazil. After a first lap collision, Vettel was at the back of the grid, he battled back through the grid, taking sixth, while Alonso finished second, meaning there was nothing Alonso could do. A rather symbolic moment from the race however was Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher moving over for Vettel to take sixth place in Schumacher’s final race. It was almost like there was a changing of the guard between the two.

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2013 saw Vettel take an impressive fourth title, not without its hairy moments, with the now infamous multi-21 incident in Malaysia. Vettel ignored team orders and overtook Webber, taking the win, the Australian was incandescent. Their relationship was already fragile following the incident in 2010, and this was the final straw, with Webber believing the team was against him, he decided to retire from Formula One at the end of the season.

He was booed at some races and Vettel revealed it did have a negative impact on him, though it was widely condemned by many drivers. It didn’t appear to faze him too much as he ended the season with 13 wins from 19 races, including nine consecutive wins at the end of the season.

2014 was the beginning of the end for Red Bull and Vettel, with the rules being changed, Mercedes became the dominant force, with Vettel being overshadowed by new team mate Daniel Ricciardo. In Japan it was confirmed that Vettel would join Ferrari, ending a 16 year association with Red Bull. A German at Ferrari, sound familiar?

Vettel is currently fighting for the title with Lewis Hamilton, but it’s clear that without Red Bull, Vettel’s career could have been so different.

So good, They made two of it – Toro Rosso

The year was 2005 and Red Bull Racing were looking to grow their brand in F1 for both the short and long term. As lady luck would have it, such an opportunity presented itself at the end of that season. Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR) was born, and the rest as they say, is history.

The struggling Minardi team was sold to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz at the end of 2005, when he entered into an equal ownership agreement with F1 legend Gerhard Berger, which lasted until 2008 when the Red Bull team took full ownership.

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Designed to serve as a vehicle for the development of their junior drivers before they could be promoted to the RBR senior team, STR has nurtured the talent of the many young drivers, the most notable of which is 4-time champion, Sebastian Vettel.

It was in an STR that Vettel took the first win of his legendary career when he shook up the paddock with a pole to victory drive at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. He is, to this date, responsible for the only STR win in F1. His victory proved to be the catalyst for his amazing season, which earned him a promotion to the RBR senior team in 2009…. And we all know how that went!

Mateschitz’s vision of creating a sustainable future for his maverick brand in F1, had immediately paid dividends, which has again been repeated by the outstanding talent that is Max Verstappen.

Even though this season has been one to forget for the Dutch driver, his win soon after promotion to RBR again underlined the need for STR in keeping young talent in the paddock, especially given that tenure in F1 is uncertain to say the least. His efforts in the 2015 season resulted in RBR scoring the most points in their history in terms of the constructors rankings.

DRAMA DRAMA

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That’s not to say it has been all wine and roses for the team. Early on in their tenure, questions were raised of an unfair advantage that STR had gained as a result of their RBR link. The team had struggled with performance and handling issues, which had been alleviated to an extent during Vettel’s sterling 2008 season.

2016 saw STR find themselves inadvertently in the middle of a motorsport storm, when Daniil Kvyat, then driving for RBR was sent back to STR for further development, and replaced in the senior team by Verstappen, to the chagrin of a large contingent of F1 fans.  The malcontent died down however, with Verstappen’s success at RBR.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN

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There are lessons to learn in the RBR/STR journey, not the least of which is the value of a team that can act both as a developmental vehicle and retain some independence. STR also doesn’t follow a traditional “use the same engine as the parent team” model which is a departure from the usual in F1. But it is their treatment of younger drivers that stands out.

Teams often face the problem of developmental drivers, who usually run the odd FP1 session or in DTM/GP2, coming into the F1 team with little experience of the rigours associated with full time F1 driving. STR has allowed the younger drivers a way of developing their skills “on the job”, so as to speak, giving them a full shot at the F1 world and arguably a better chance when they are eventually promoted to the RBR team or even join another team on the grid.

Currently Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kyvat helm the machines at STR and while they have struggled a bit this season, the upcoming tracks should suit their style of driving and keep them in the mix for points.

We shall wait and see.

The Cat In F1

Red Bull started their ever-successful F1 adventure in 2005 with David Coulthard and Christian Klien as its first ever driver pairing, while Vitantonio Liuzzi drove several races in Klien’s place. But what of their predecessors at the Milton Keynes base?

Ford took over the old Stewart team in time for the start of the 2000 season and renamed Sir Jackie’s outfit as Jaguar Racing and promised a lot during their five seasons. In Johnny Herbert and Eddie Irvine, they started out with two Grand Prix winners with Irvine himself fresh from a title challenge with Ferrari in 1999, missing out by two points to Mika Hakkinen.

The season fell way short of their predecessors though. Herbert retired from F1 to go and race in the US off the back of a pointless season, while in a car that clearly struggled Irvine managed to wrestle four points from it. With today’s points system in place, he would have scored 42.

Author: Rick Dikeman

2001 was little better amid turbulence behind the scenes, with successful American team manager drafted in by Ford to turn things around. Irvine was to make the podium in a chaotic Monaco Grand Prix but aside from that results were largely the same. Luciano Burti lasted just four races as Herbert’s replacement before he was himself replaced by Pedro De La Rosa, who would score two points in Italy. Jaguar would finish eighth in the Constructors’ Championship.

2002 saw fewer points but ultimately a higher position in the Constructors’, taking the last of their podium finishes at the Italian Grand Prix courtesy of Irvine once more. Irvine would retire at the end of the season, De La Rosa would go through it pointless and lose his seat as the promising Mark Webber and Brazil’s Antonio Pizzonia joined for 2003. In a similar pattern to Jaguar’s three years, Webber would dominate Pizzonia while he became the second Brazilian to leave Jaguar midway through a season. His replacement, Justin Wilson was on closer terms with Webber and would score a point. Webber would score 16.

A stronger performance in 2003 led many to believe Jaguar would be more regular scorers in 2004, but it didn’t materialise. Webber managed just seven before it was announced he’d be joining BMW Williams, while rookie Klien took just three. Before the end of the season Ford announced their intention to sell, their F1 project floundering.

Author: Rick Dikeman

It wasn’t until very late that Dietrich Mateschitz, whose Red Bull company had sponsored Jaguar as part of the deal to sign Klien, bought the team outright, before buying Minardi a year later and renaming that Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Days before World Champions’ glory

Red Bull were clearly the most dominant team of the early decade after years of building solid foundations in the midfield. The team formerly known as Jaguar began their F1 tenure with an excellent performance in what was their debut campaign.

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David Coulthard showed on numerous occasions that the RB1 was quick as he twice just missed out on podium finishes on his way to 24 points and 12th place, in a renaissance for the Scot ousted at McLaren by Juan Pablo Montoya. Christian Klien took further eight points including 5th place in China, while Vitantonio Liuzzi scored his maiden point at the San Marino Grand Prix.

2006 was to be less fruitful for the team despite Coulthard scoring their first podium, and the first for the Milton Keynes factory since 2002, at the Monaco Grand Prix. Klien left three races before the end of the season to be replaced by Robert Doornbos as Red Bull scored just 14 points all season, with six of those in Monaco.

Mark Webber re-joined in 2007 and the team became more consistent as they began to move up the Constructors’ standings, while Coulthard remained as First Driver. On the pitwall, Red Bull pulled off a major coup by signing legendary designer Adrian Newey from McLaren on a long-term contract. Webber was to score a podium at the European Grand Prix in Germany but was dogged by the kind of reliability issues that plagued his two-year stint at Williams.

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Coulthard was more of a consistent scorer, largely avoiding the poor luck that Webber endured. 24 points was enough for the team to finish fifth in the World Championship. More points did not herald forward movement in the Constructors’ Championship in 2008 as the influence of Newey began to show. Webber scored points in five of the first six races of 2008 while Coulthard, in what was to be his final season in F1, struggled to make an impact.

A chaotic Canadian Grand Prix saw the Scot take the final podium of an excellent career with third place behind the two BMW Saubers, but seventh in Singapore was his sole other points finish. His career ended with a first lap shunt at the now famous Brazilian Grand Prix. With Sebastian Vettel announced as his replacement after impressing at Toro Rosso, new regulations for 2009 promised a shake-up of the order. That promise came to fruition as Red Bull proved to have one of the quicker cars, although they started out well behind Brawn GP following Ross Brawn’s Honda-salvage operation.

It had been a slow start with just 1.5 points from the first two races as Vettel crashed out of the Australian Grand Prix while fighting Kubica for second while Webber finished sixth in a rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix. A rain-soaked Chinese Grand Prix was the scene for Vettel’s second Grand Prix victory but more importantly Red Bull’s first, as Webber made it a 1-2 ahead of Jenson Button’s Brawn.

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Vettel would win again later in the year in Britain, Japan and Abu Dhabi while Webber took an emotional first-ever win at Nurburgring, with a second one in Brazil not enough to stop the Brawn pair of Button and Rubens Barrichello winning both the World Drivers’ Championship with Button and the Constructors’ Championship with a race to spare. Nevertheless, a precedent had been set as Red Bull comfortably outperformed their rivals in the second half of the season, while Ferrari and McLaren both had poor seasons. It was never a flash in the pan for Dietrich Mateschitz, and Red Bull Racing were here to stay.

 

Mark Webber – Red Bull’s Long Stint Man

Mark Webber made his debut at his home Grand Prix in 2002, driving for the now-defunct Minardi team. When the-then 26-year-old made his debut, no-one could’ve expected points but no-one would’ve thought that the unassuming Aussie would go on to be such a role-model and ambassador for F1. In this feature, I look back on Mark Webber’s stint at Red Bull – a car he became synonymous with from 2007 right up to his retirement in 2013.

Webber made a bold decision to join Red Bull in 2007. The team at the time had only one podium, which was a lucky one at that – at the 2006 Monaco GP, following the retirement of Jarno Trulli’s Toyota just a few laps from the end. Webber himself was also unproven, with just one podium to his name, at the same Grand Prix the year before.

The start to his Red Bull life was nothing spectacular. It took him until the United States Grand Prix to score points – the 7th race of the year. The next time he would score points would be at the European Grand Prix, hosted at the Nurburgring – which turned into be an iconic and memorable circuit for the effervescent Australian.

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The race will be one that many of us remember for different reasons. For me, it was because, as an 8-year-old boy, I was listening to Murray Walker commentate for the first time in my life, on the radio in the UK. There was carnage at turn one, with a quarter of the field sliding off in the monsoon-like conditions – Webber was NOT one of them. Mark went on to finish a whole minute behind the winner but it was enough to secure him his first podium for Red Bull. There would be just one more points-finish in 2007, at the Belgian GP where he was 7th.

For 2008, he remained with Red Bull and finished eight races but this time, without a podium finish. His best result was 4th at the Monaco GP – a circuit that was quickly becoming one of his favourites. Just three retirements in the 2008 season also suggested that whilst Mark as a driver was becoming a more complete competitor, Red Bull as a team were making big steps forwards.

2009 beckoned and for once, the grid had been well and truly shaken up. McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari were both struggling, whilst the likes of Brawn and Red Bull took over as the top-two teams. Webber was undoubtedly outshone by his young teammate and Red Bull new-kid, Sabastian Vettel. Webebr’s first podium of the season came in China with 2nd – his best result ever at the time. This was followed by Spanish Grand Prix success and third place, two races later. From the Turkish GP to the Hungarian GP, Webber took four podiums – including his first ever victory, at the Nurburgring in Germany.

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Years of doubt had plagued Webber. Journalists and TV pundits doubting him throughout his career.At the time, Australia was also coming good in other Motorsport areas. Casey Stoner was a regular race-winner in MotoGP whilst Troy Bayliss had become World Superbike champion for a third time in 2008. Josh Brookes was a revelation in British Superbikes and Cameron Donald was continuing to take the road racing scene and the Isle of Man TT by storm. Mark Webber had completed the set of Australia’s Motorsport achievements towards the end of the naughties. He became the first Australian to win a race in F1 since Alan Jones at the Caesar Palace Grand Prix, way back in 1981. The drought of Australian F1 success was over and Webber was now on his way. After the Hungarian GP of that year however, it all went wrong. Just two more podiums came his way, with a win in Brazil and 2nd in the Abu Dhabi GP placing him 4th overall in the standings – his highest at the time. However, in the words of the man himself, “It was nothing to what 2010 had in store”.

He was quite right too. 2010 was another stellar season. Wins came at the Spanish GP and Monaco GP before a controversial clash with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Turkey occurred. Brits adored him as one of their own and when he won at Silverstone, it was met with great delight. Once more, a win in Hungary proved that he had talent in a Formula 1 car and that he could be a regular threat.

Despite being his most successful season in F1, Mark would have to wait until the final race of the year to become a winner in 2011 – the Brazilian Grand Prix. He finished every race in the points with the exception of the Italian Grand Prix. A damaged front wing tucked under the car at the Parabolica, recording his and the team’s first retirement of the year. Webber finished 3rd in the championship on 258 points.

2012 was disappointing. His first win came in Monaco and his next at Silverstone. However, that was to be his last win in F1. Webber had a poor mid-season and by the time the championship had concluded in Brazil, he was 6th in the championship – his worst championship position since 2008. However, the gritty Wonder from Down Under wasn’t finished.

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2013 would prove to be Webber’s last in Formula 1. However, it wasn’t a boring bow-out. He came to blows with teammate Vettel in the Malaysian Grand Prix, after the German ignored team orders and took the win away from Webber. In June, Mark Webber made the announcement that no-one wanted him to ever make. The humble Australian, who had gone from inconsistent driver to accomplished race winner in just a couple of seasons, was to leave the sport at the end of the season to pursue a new career in the World Endurance Series.

Webber finished his Formula One career with nine wins, forty-two podiums, thirteen pole positions and nineteen fastest laps from 215 race starts. An icon for Australians and an inspiration to any young driver. Webber’s defiance to continue in his early years despite mediocre results earned him a reputation as being one of the most determined and most calculated drivers in the modern era of F1. Whilst the world and F1 paddock has gone PC and Red Tape mad, Webber pushed the boundaries and that is what gave him so many fans worldwide. F1 misses Webber but he will be remembered for his success at Red Bull. A fixture and fitting of the team and by no-means forgotten about.

Webber continues with media duties for Channel 4, with their F1 coverage and also interviews the drivers on the podium after the racing.

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The future of Red Bull Racing

What is most unique about Red Bull’s junior driver programme is that it predates the team itself. Founded in 2001, three years before the Austrian team would ever enter a grand prix, it is the second oldest programme in motorsport solely dedicated to grooming young drivers to become future stars of Formula 1. The team recruits promising drivers with the proviso of funding and sponsoring their fledgling motorsport careers in junior categories. Providing them with additional physical and mental training is an invaluable asset to their career progression. And the past dictates that it has been a worthwhile venture for Red Bull.

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The Red Bull Junior Team has achieved remarkable success. One Sebastian Vettel, signed to the programme in 2002, won four world championships with Red Bull Racing, proving irrefutably that the programme works. It has also produced two more Formula 1 race winners, Red Bull’s current line-up; Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. What is most impressive about the programme is the amount of drivers it has managed to take all the way to Formula 1. Ten drivers have graduated to the top flight of single seater racing, though not all of them went on to win races or championships, it is an exceptionally high number of junior drivers to make it to F1.

Red Bull have been aided massively by their acquisition of the Minardi Formula 1 team in 2005, which they renamed ‘Scuderia Toro Rosso’ and rebranded the outfit into their sister team, run for the purpose of developing their young drivers further. Usually running in the midfield, the team offers young drivers Formula 1 race experience, with the view to eventually move them up to the Red Bull Racing team, if and when they feel they are ready. This is an asset that other teams have tried to replicate, but never to the same degree of success. A common problem for young racers is that often there isn’t the space for them, but Red Bull’s use of Toro Rosso circumvents this issue slightly, by giving Red Bull four seats they can place their drivers in, instead of the usual two.

The Red Bull Junior Team currently consists of five drivers, competing in four different series. The longest serving current member is Pierre Gasly, 2016 GP2 champion and recent race winner in Super Formula, has been a part fof the team since 2014. Gasly is also touted as a contender for a Toro Rosso seat in 2018. Finnish driver Niko Kari, currently competing in GP3, and Richard Verschoor, racing in both the Toyota Racing Series and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, are in their second year with the programme. While Dan Ticktum and Neil Verhagen are newcomers to the Red Bull Junior Team, both driving in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, alongside Verschoor. With the exception of Gasly, none of these young drivers have been with the programme for a significant amount of time, which is one of the striking things about the Red Bull Junior Team.

Pierre Gasly driving the 2005 Red Bull RB1 at Goodwood on June 26, 2015 in Chichester, England
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Whilst ten drivers might seem like a large number of drivers to take all the way to Formula 1, since its creation in 2001 the Red Bull Junior Team has had sixty-one different drivers on its books at even given time – not including the five currently part of the team. And most young drivers only stay with the team for a year or so before either leaving or being dropped. There are a few exceptions, but on the whole, there is an unusually high turnover of drivers entering and leaving the programme.

The mission statement of the Red Bull Junior Team states that their drivers are under ‘permanent pressure to perform’, and this is clearly the case. Often if a driver has an off-season, or fails to live up to the standards set by Red Bull, they are swiftly dropped. It is very clear that the young drivers in the programme are in a precarious position, with no guarantee of a secure place in the future.

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Being dropped by a programme such as Red Bull’s can be detrimental to a young driver’s career. One of the reason why places on Formula 1 teams’ junior programmes are so sought after is because of the financial backing teams can provide. Something which is essential for drivers who do not come from wealthy backgrounds or have ample sponsorship deals. For drivers such as these, to suddenly lose their backing could spell the end of their Formula 1 dream, or even their racing career.

There are also cases where drivers who were dropped by Red Bull have gone on to have very successful motorsport careers outside of Formula 1, proving that Red Bull were perhaps too dismissive of their talents when they had them on their books. This is apparent in the case of New Zealand born driver Brendon Hartley who spent four seasons in the Red Bull Junior Team before being rather harshly dropped in the middle of the 2010 season. Most recently, Hartley was part of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans winning team with Porsche, an achievement contrary to Red Bull’s implications that he wasn’t up to racing at the highest level.

The junior single seater circuit is littered with ex-Red Bull backed drivers, F3 title contender Callum Ilott and F2 entrants Alexander Albon and Sergio Sette Camara being a few examples, which is a sign of their merciless attitude towards their junior programme. But this is an ethos firmly engrained within the wider Red Bull motorsport programme. One only has to look at the infamous promotion of Max Verstappen to Red Bull, at the price of Daniil Kvyat’s own Formula 1 career. It was a cut throat move, but it ultimately proved to be right one.

It should be no surprise that the Red Bull Junior Team has so many casualties, whilst it may seem unfair or even cruel, it is a technique that works perfectly for them. Ricciardo and Verstappen, both products of the Red Bull system, are widely considered the most competitive driver pairing on the grid and have the potential to bring the team any number of championships, if given the right machinery. There is no doubt that if Red Bull believe that their junior drivers have the ability then they will take them all the way.

Red Bull Racing – The beginning

When Red Bull first started in Formula One in 2005 they started out with a reputation for adding fun to the ever-more serious world of F1. Energy drinks tycoon Dietrich Mateschitz took over the ailing Jaguar team having harboured interest in F1 for some time. But for their first driver line-up they far from goofed around.

David Coulthard resurfaced there after losing his McLaren seat to Juan Pablo Montoya, while F300 Champion Vitantonio Liuzzi would share driving duties with Christian Klien. The season started well as a wet-dry-wet qualifying in Australia mixed the grid up. Coulthard took a solid fourth place while Klien also scored on Red Bull’s debut with seventh place. In Malaysia, Coulthard and Klien again scored a double-points finish by taking sixth and eighth respectively, while Coulthard scored a further point in Bahrain. Coulthard was to score again with an eighth place in Spain as Red Bull confirmed a solid start to their Formula One life, but the team were to go through a lean spell through the middle of the season.

David Coulthard, Bosphorus Crossing 2005 – Istanbul
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Liuzzi scored his only point in San Marino while Coulthard rattled off a fourth and a seventh at the European Grand Prix and in Canada, before the team scored just two points from the next five races. In Turkey, the team scored three points as Coulthard took seventh while Klien followed his teammate home before another three-race scoreless streak to the chaotic Japanese Grand Prix. Another wet qualifying mixed up the grid, and despite Red Bull’s lack of pace relative to the beginning of the season Coulthard was seldom far away from the top three. The Flying Scotsman would eventually finish sixth. Klien would finish a strong fifth in China while Coulthard just missed out on the points at the final round of 2005.

Coulthard would end the season 12th in the World Drivers’ Championship with 24 points, with Klien 15th on 9 and Liuzzi 24th with one point from his four races. The team finished an impressive seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, just four points behind BAR Honda. For 2006, the team would struggle more on their way to 16 points and seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.

The signing of Coulthard added experience to a team entering a new dawn, while Klien showed flashes of speed. The solid performance of Red Bull’s first years inspired confidence of future success for Mateschitz.

Those hopes have been vindicated.

Multi 21: The Battle of the Bulls

Team orders are a topic that often divides fans of Formula One. They are a critical, but at times, unwelcome part of motorsport. Throughout the years, the conflict of whether team orders should be implemented to manipulate results has come to the forefront on a number of occasions.

Arguably, the most famous case of team orders was in 2002 when Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello gifted the race win to his teammate Michael Schumacher in Austria. It was a decision that caused outcry throughout the paddock and the racing world. Schumacher was dominating proceedings and his closest competitor was 21 points behind, making Ferrari’s decision seem a pointless one. After the 2002 season ended, the FIA announced that orders that influenced a race result would be banned.

In 2010, despite the ban still been in place, Ferrari once more showed their blatant disregard for the rules at the German Grand Prix. “Fernando is faster than you.” uttered by Felipe Massa’s race engineer, Rob Smedley, is now a phrase that has found it’s place in Formula One history. Massa proceeded to allow his teammate and title contender Fernando Alonso through to clinch the win. However, after the race, Ferrari were reprimanded with a $100,000 fine. It was shortly after this incident that the ban on team orders were lifted.

The relaxation of the ban brought about a situation that would be discussed several years later, that would be ingrained into the history of Formula One. The year was 2013. The previous three seasons had been dominated by a new force. Red Bull had claimed the crown of the constructor’s championship and the driver’s championship for the third consecutive time and this season, the aim was no different. They wanted to continue to build on the success they had forged with the dynamic partnership of three time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

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Things however, were not rosy within Red Bull. Over the past three years, it was clear that Red Bull seemed to favour Vettel, leading to quips from Webber such as “Not bad for a number two driver.” at the 2010 British Grand Prix. However, Webber continued to perform admirably, often securing podium finishes to cement Red Bull’s standing at the top of the driver’s championship.

The opening race of the 2013 season had not gone to plan for the Austrian based team. Their lead driver Sebastian Vettel had taken pole but thanks to a mistimed pit stop, had to settle for third behind Räikkönen and Alonso. Webber had less luck, struggling with a ECU problem which dropped him to a lowly sixth position. It was not the start that Red Bull had envisioned.

Things had to change in Malaysia. They did, but not in the way they had hoped. Vettel claimed a dominant pole but gambled with dry weather tyres early in the race, falling back several positions on the still-wet track. Webber on the other hand, took over the lead of the race and held the position until the last set of pit stops as Vettel carved his way back through the field. However, as lap 44 began and Webber emerged ahead of Vettel in his final pit stop, the delicate harmony that had existed between the two Red Bull teammates would once more be shattered.

Red Bull had opted to retain their current 1-2 status. They did not want a repeat of the events that unfolded at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix. The situation had been identical. Webber had fended off a chasing Vettel until fuel saving had left him open to attack. Vettel had dived down the inside but the two teammates collided, sending Vettel spinning into the gravel and out of the race. Webber recovered to take third place. Both drivers blamed the other for the crash. Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko and team principal Christian Horner were livid and for good reason, their driver’s actions had thrown away the perfect team result.

“Multi map 2-1, multi map 2-1.” was the order given to Vettel in Malaysia as he chased down his teammate, hungry for his first win of the season. Red Bull wanted to preserve their driver’s current positions. However, the three time world champion chose to ignore the order, continuing to press Webber.

Horner chose to intervene at that moment, seeing Vettel on the gearbox of the sister car. He told Vettel to give Webber space and to hold position. But that order was also ignored by Vettel who pressed forward, pulling alongside Webber. Webber fought back, but it was to no avail. Vettel got ahead of the Australian at turn four, going on to claim another victory and the top spot of the driver’s championship. Webber finished second, but he was furious that Vettel had ignored direct team orders.

Tempers flared in the cool-down room as Webber uttered the infamous words “Yeah, Multi 21, Seb. Multi 21.” reinforcing the team orders that Vettel had disregarded. His anger continued into the press conference as he confirmed that Vettel had made his own decisions but he would probably be afforded protection as the main driver at the Austrian outfit.

Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Although Vettel apologised at the end of the race, his teammate’s remarks made him withdraw his apology ahead of the next race in China. He claimed that he had not understood the instruction he was given and that Webber did not deserve to win, pointing to the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix as evidence. Vettel had fought back from last to sixth, only for his progress to be hindered by his teammate. Thankfully, for the championship leader, fellow German Michael Schumacher allowed him to pass, clinching the title by a mere three points.  

It wasn’t until 2015 when Webber was finally able to release his book Aussie Grit that further details on the incident were released. Vettel had sent lawyer’s documents to Red Bull, preventing them from reprimanding him further. By this point, however, the dust had settled on the events and they were a distant memory.

Despite this, the Multi 21 situation changed everything. It is still discussed within fans of motorsport, even today. The team were left embarrassed by Vettel’s comments, the gulf between their two drivers was plain to see. The decision to allow team orders in the sport was once again questioned as fans feared that it diluted the excitement of watching drivers duel without any influence. Despite this animosity, Vettel still claimed his fourth consecutive title in dominating fashion that season. However, it came at the cost of losing Webber. In June 2013, the Australian called time on his eleven year Formula One career, declaring that he was moving on to drive for Porsche on their new LMP1 sportscar programme.

Webber has never stated that the Multi 21 situation alone was reason for him to choose to walk away from the successful team. It seems, rather, to be one of a number of catalysts that forced his decision. He no longer wanted to sit back and watch his teammate get the preferential treatment. It turned out to be a decision worth making as Webber would go on to claim the 2015 WEC championship with teammates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.

Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Rivalries between teammates have become part of what makes Formula One great. Two men fighting side by side in the same machinery.  Prost and Senna. Mansell and Piquet. Alonso and Hamilton. Hamilton and Rosberg. These names are forever ingrained in the history of the sport together, as fierce competitors in intense battles. Vettel and Webber are no exception to this. Multi 21 however, exposed the ugly side of being teammates, of favouring one driver over the other blatantly played out in the public eye. Team orders have always been a part of motorsport. They always will be as teams push to claim the result that suits them best. Multi 21 was not the first time team orders were issued and ignored, nor will it be the last. It will still remain as one of the great controversies of the sport for years to come, cementing both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber as fierce competitors during their time together at Red Bull. 

Red Bull Racing Week – the quiz

Welcome to your Red Bull Week Quiz

Who finished second in the World Drivers’ Championship to Sebastian Vettel in both 2010 and 2012?
Who won first? Red Bull Racing or Scuderia Toro Rosso?
Who did Sebastian Vettel replace mid-season in 2007 at Toro Rosso?
Red Bull have won the same amount of World Drivers’ and Constructors Championships. How many of each have they won?
The infamous Multi 21 incident took place at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, but at which previous Grand Prix did Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel famously collide while Red Bull teammates?
Which of these three drivers did not form part of their first driver line-up?
Where was Red Bull’s first ever podium?
How many Dutchmen have driven for Red Bull?
Where was Mark Webber “not bad for a number two driver.”?
How many victories did Daniel Ricciardo take during his first Red Bull season?
Which team did Red Bull takeover in 2004 ahead of their debut year in 2005?
In which year did Adrian Newey join Red Bull from McLaren?
Where in the UK are Red Bull Racing based?
Who took Red Bull’s first ever victory at the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix?
Where and when was Mark Webber’s first ever Grand Prix victory?