For any Formula 1 team celebrating a specific landmark is always a special occasion – and in Monaco one of the giants on the current grid did just that.
In 2005, rising from the ashes of Jaguar, Red Bull Racing emerged as the latest in the long line of F1 teams giving one of the most exciting, exhilarating sports on the planet a real crack.
13 years later, the team is celebrating reaching 250 grand prix starts, and in that time it has become not only one of the most successful teams in F1’s 68 years of competition but also one of the greatest brands the sport has ever seen.
Red Bull’s record speaks for itself: four drivers’ championships, four constructors’ championships, 57 wins, 59 pole positions, 151 podiums and 58 fastest laps.
While the records have flown and the accolades cherished, Red Bull’s eye for spotting young, talented, hungry racers has no doubt played a major part in its success.
From the exceptional rise of Sebastian Vettel, to the brilliance and charisma of Daniel Ricciardo, to the determination and hunger of Max Verstappen – Red Bull has nurtured some of the most exciting, vibrant, tenacious racing drivers from wannabe stars to race winners and world champions.
From its inaugural entry in Australia ’05, to celebrating pool side in the Monaco harbour 250 races later, lets reflect on 10 moments in that period that has made Red Bull one of the class acts of F1.
Verstappen dazzles on debut
Red Bull has never been short of controversial decisions in its 13-year history and in the lead up to the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix the team was under severe scrutiny for the demotion of driver Daniil Kvyat. The Russian had been replaced by rising star Max Verstappen after senior bosses felt his performances were not on par with Red Bull’s expectations. Verstappen had only one years experience under his belt but had already been labelled as the next one in a generation Formula 1 star. Although unfamiliar with the machinery at his disposal, Verstappen performed admirably in his first qualifying session to qualify fourth on the grid and was targeting a podium finish on his debut for the team.
However, on the opening lap, his target looked almost certain to become a reality as both Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided and retired on the spot. This presented a real opportunity for an unimaginable result on Verstappen’s first outing for Red Bull. On a two-stop strategy he found himself battling Kimi Raikkonen for an unlikely victory. Despite the Ferrari being the quicker car in race trim, Raikkonen could not find a way past the Dutch driver. In a momentous achievement, Verstappen recorded a sensational maiden career victory to become the youngest grand prix winner at just 18 years old. After the criticism of the driver switch, Red Bull’s decision had well and truly been justified at the first attempt.
With three back-to-back world championships in both drivers’ and constructors’, Red Bull headed into 2013 as hot favourites to add to their immensely impressive tally of achievements. Sticking with their championship winning line-up of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, the RB9 looked the car to beat as it set the pace in qualifying at the first round. Although not triumphant, from Malaysia onwards it seemed a question as to when, not if, Red Bull would wrap up the title. Vettel, in-particular, was in inspired form, a mid-season change to the heavily-degrading Pirelli tyres one of the deciding factors in the championship battle – and in Vettel’s season. Nine consecutive victories saw him romp to a fourth world championship in a row by a margin of 145 points, and Red Bull join McLaren and Ferrari as the only teams to have won four titles on the bounce. It cemented the Milton Keynes-based outfit alongside the all-time greats, who would have predicted it would be its last championship to date?
Formula 1 has seen its fair share of controversy over the years from spying to cheating, and the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix was just one example of the ugly side to the sport. After a disappointing start in Australia, Red Bull was eager to return to form in Sepang. The weekend began well with Sebastian Vettel storming to pole position on a wet track. Although he’d qualified four positions back, Mark Webber had put himself in contention for victory as he worked his way to the front of the field. Red Bull were seemingly unchallenged and set for a comfortable one-two finish, but thoughts of strolling to the chequered flag were quickly thrown out of the window as Webber emerged just ahead of Vettel after his final pitstop.
Although he defended the position to keep the lead of the grand prix, Vettel called for a switch between both cars feeling he had more pace than Webber in the latter stages. However, the team sent a coded message ‘Multi 21’ over team radio to the drivers, specifying to stay in the current formation and not fight for position. Vettel ignored the order and attacked Webber along the pit straight, the two went side by side around Turn 1 before Webber stood his ground into Turn 2. His determination to hold the race lead was in vein as Vettel switched underneath Webber at Turn 4, pulling away and winning by four seconds. The result had torn a line between the two drivers, who had a history of incidents as team-mates. Their expression on the podium told the whole story on a hot afternoon in Malaysia.
2010 - the year of the Bull
The 2010 season was Red Bull’s sixth in Formula 1, and after losing out on both championships to Brawn GP the previous year, the Austrian outfit was fiercely determined to make the year one to remember. However, it would prove a year-long battle. McLaren and Ferrari were clearly Red Bull’s nearest challengers as the three teams fought from track to track in the 19-race calendar. Despite having a car clearly quicker than its rivals over a single lap, mechanical failures and inter-team rivalries threatened to let both championships slip through Red Bull’s fingers. Victories in Malaysia, Spain, Monaco, Valencia, Silverstone and Hungary by the summer break put them top in both standings.
In one of the closest championships in F1 history, Red Bull were just too strong and pulled clear at the final hurdle. A constructors’ championship was secured at the penultimate round in Brazil but although both drivers were in contention in the four-way fight for the drivers’ title, it looked likely that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso would claim the crown in Abu Dhabi. A rare mistake from Ferrari on strategy paved the way for Sebastian Vettel to snatch the championship and, in doing so, become the sport’s youngest-ever world champion at the tender age of 23. Six years after arriving as F1’s newbies in Melbourne, they had done the double.
No Turkish delight in Istanbul
After six pole positions from six races and win percentage of 50%, 2010 had begun accordingly for Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were joint top of the standings and the team was on a high after a one-two at the Monaco Grand Prix. Round seven in Turkey looked set to be another big haul of points, both drivers were running first and second and halfway stage but were under attack from a fiery McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Mark Webber was keen to seal a third successive victory as he led team-mate Vettel on the 39th lap, but along the back straight the German attempted to overtake his elder statesman for the lead. Little did anyone know his manoeuvre would end in disaster. Vettel went around Webber’s outside but crucially edged right thereafter, causing contact between his right-rear tyre and Webber’s left-front tyre. The collision forced Vettel into immediate retirement and Webber to limp home to third. The team was furious an almost certain one-two finish had been blown, and as history would prove, it wouldn’t be the last time a pair of Red Bull team-mates would collide with each other.
Bull rampages to maiden victory
Three races into the 2009 season it was already apparent Red Bull had taken a huge leap forwards in performance and development, as Mark Webber and new signing Sebastian Vettel had showcased in the first two races. However, results had gone against them with just three points scored from a possible 27; podium places were lost through collisions or mistakes. The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai saw Red Bull swoop to a first-ever pole position courtesy of Sebastian Vettel, who’s qualifying lap was even more sensational given he’d achieved it with just one run in Q3.
A heavy downpour arrived on race day, but nothing could dampen Red Bull’s spirits. The car performed just as good in the wet conditions as it had in the dry, Vettel streaked ahead, with team-mate Webber in hot pursuit. No-one was in touching distance of the pair as Vettel crossed the line in just under two hours to record a historic first win for Red Bull Racing, with Webber completing a one-two finish. The team had sent a clear message to the rest of the field – and now the bull was rampaging towards a title challenge.
Red Bull's greatest signing?
Red Bull had overachieved in 2005, but that didn’t stop them from wanting to continue to push forwards and fight alongside F1’s top-tier teams. Under Red Bull’s previous guise of Jaguar an attempt to sign legendary designer Adrian Newey had proved unsuccessful. However, in late 2005, Red Bull announced it had managed to persuade Newey to put pen to paper and sign for the following season, as it looked to mark down its intentions to its fellow competitors. Although unable to influence the design of the 2006 car, Newey was as motivated as ever to add to his impressive tally of championship-winning cars from his spells at Williams and McLaren.
Despite his expertise, his first two designs [the RB3 and RB4] couldn’t produce results the team had expected. However, the 2009 regulation changes would present an opportunity and played beautifully into Red Bull’s hands, with Newey’s RB5 design the first of his real big hitters while at the team, as it elevated them from seventh to second in the championship standings. It would just be the start of a long and successful period, with wins and championships to come, and arguably makes Adrian Newey a greater signing than any of the team’s nine drivers? The rest, you could say, is history?
First podium in the Principality
Speaking off which, a year later, Red Bull teamed up with Superman with the launch of Superman Returns, and this time around the collaboration would soar to success. After qualifying eighth, which became seventh after pole-sitter Michael Schumacher was penalised for deliberately blocking the track, David Coulthard steered clear of trouble on one of the most demanding circuits in F1. Helped by a late retirement for Jarno Trulli in third-place, the Scot drove heroically to seal an iconic moment in Red Bull’s history, with its first podium finish in just its 26th grand prix. Coulthard stood on the rostrum for the first time since Japan 2003 wearing a cape as he celebrated an unexpected result, which ironically was at the same circuit predecessors Stewart Grand Prix and Jaguar clinched their maiden podiums. Moreover, team boss Christian Horner promised to jump into the team’s swimming pool naked if they finished in the top three, a promise he fulfilled bearing Coulthard’s red cape.
Alliance with the dark side
During its time in Formula 1, Red Bull has shown itself to be the life and soul of the paddock. This was non more apparent than in their earlier years when for the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix the team collaborated with the Star Wars franchise ahead of the release of the film Revenge of the Sith. The RB1 sported a one-off livery and the mechanics dressed up in suits resembling the famous Stormtroopers. Although a clear indication of its fun and charismatic nature, the partnership failed to have an affect on Red Bull’s race as both cars failed to finish. However, it wouldn’t be the only time we would see F1 rub shoulders with the film industry.
Debut down under
When Jaguar announced in late 2004 it would be leaving Formula 1 after a five-year stay, Dietrich Mateschitz didn’t need to think twice at the possibility to buy out the remains of the team. Under the backing of his energy drinks company, Red Bull Racing was born and entered the 2005 season with a vision to compete right from the off on motorsports biggest stage. The experience of 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard proved invaluable, and together with Austrian Christian Klein scored an outstanding result on the team’s debut in Melbourne. Coulthard, arguably, outdrove his machinery to finish a remarkable fourth, with Klein a respectable seventh at the chequered flag. By the end of the year, Red Bull had amassed more points in one season than Jaguar had managed in its final two years in the sport – the future was looking bright.