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A personal Review of the year – Red Bull Racing
A personal Review of the year – Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Dec 2010   |  4:08 pm GMT  |  44 comments

There are 12 days of Christmas and there are 12 F1 teams so I’m doing a brief personal look back on the season for each of them.

I’m starting with Red Bull, the champions this year.

Red Bull Racing, 9 wins, 20 Podiums 15 pole positions

Red Bull is involved in over 100 sports and currently sponsors 456 athletes, from volleyball players to freestyle motor crossers. But this year they won big in the world’s most high profile regular event, Formula 1. And they did it according to the values of owner Dietrich Mateschitz, which is that in sport Red Bull should “carry the responsibility for success and failure.” In other words they don’t want to just put their sticker on a car, they want to be intrinsically involved in the decision making, to play the game, to win.. to lose.

I find this absolutely fascinating and you have to admire the vision here. This is not something we’ve only really seen before with Benetton in the 1990s. Tobacco firm BAT started their own team in the late 1990s – BAR – but with different objectives.

But whereas Benetton was a more cynical exercise, focussed on winning at all costs, with Red Bull Mateschitz’s edict meant that the team didn’t intervene in the closing stages of the season when one of its drivers was well ahead of the other on points with a formidable rival to beat in the shape of Fernado Alonso and Ferrari. And yet it worked out the way Mateschitz wanted it to with Sebastian Vettel, the driver well behind team mate Webber on points with two races to go, coming through to win both races and take the title. Red Bull, an energy drinks company, had gone beyond sponsorship and had taken responsibility for the success or failure. Racing teams on the other hand are usually pragmatic, cynical and hard bitten. And 99% of them would have backed Webber with two races to go, as the odds of Alonso nicking the title at the time were huge.

The problem for many race fans is that these pure, Corinthian and very admirable values of Red Bull’s had been rather confused earlier in the season when the team appeared to be backing Vettel. The two flashpoints were the collision between the drivers in Turkey, where the management felt that Webber should have given Vettel an easier path to pass and Silverstone, where the front wing was taken from Webber’s car and put on Vettel’s without the driver being consulted.

The team didn’t handle these moments well and it rather spoils the story of how the team “let the drivers race” to this glorious outcome. But apart from that, it is remarkable that this group, built around designer Adrian Newey, has taken on and beat the great Ferrari and McLaren in particular. Newey has rediscoved his mojo and now he has to keep it going.

It is a well organised race team in England, under Christian Horner, but according to a quote in Der Spiegel magazine recently from Dr Helmut Marko, one of three directors of the team, “Austria decides everything.”

The RB6 was always likely to be a rocket ship, based as it was on the 2009 car. Every now and then a car comes along which is so in tune with itself, creating downforce from every surface, perfectly balanced and blindingly fast and the RB6 was one of them.

It’s a truism in F1 that when you are winning and dominating the sport, people have a pop at you, muttering darkly about illegal devices on the car, crawling around it on the grid to see the ‘naughty bits’. It’s as old as the hills and this year Red Bull were at the centre of it. At the start of the season the car had some kind of device to raise it up after after qualifying, it had flexi wings, it had an exhaust blown diffuser everyone had to copy.

Photos showed that the front wing was virtually touching the ground at speed and yet it passed all the FIA crash tests, even when they were made more strict. It was hard on the mechanics, they looked steadily more tired as the season went on, always having to work late into the night to fit new parts. They are the unsung heroes of this campaign.

The car always seemed to have an extra few tenths in the final part of qualifying, with the result that it was on pole for 15 of the 19 races. It only managed to win 9, however, and these were not all from pole, so that tells the story of how Red Bull actually made quite hard work of winning this title. I suspect that with one top driver leading the team, the title would have been wrapped up around Singapore time. But by having two drivers free to fight they blitzed the constructors’ championship and gave us some great entertainment.

Yes the winning is important, it justifies the vast sums spent. But all the talk about the team, with that soft drinks brand at the centre of it, that’s what Mateschitz was after and on that level it was a very successful year.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Red Bull had undoubtably the best car all year long and it is a credit for the hard work of Adrian Newey, the king of aero and the whole team at Red Bull Racing. In all the categories that I measured the 2010 cars in, it was ranked No. 1.

The categories include:

Car Driveability, All Round Car Ability, Low Downforce Circuits, Medium Downforce Circuits, High Downforce Circuits, High Speed Circuits, Medium Speed Circuits and Low Speed Circuits.

The categories in order of strength for the RB6 are:

1. All Round Car Ability(1st)

2. Medium Downforce Circuits(1st)

3. Low Speed Circuits(1st)

4. High Downforce Circuits(1st)

5. Medium Speed Circuits(1st)

6. High Speed Circuits(1st)

7. Low Downforce Circuits(1st)

8. Car Driveability(1st)

Both Vettel and Webber had a very good year, but I think they should have wrapped up at least the Constructors Championship a little bit earlier then they should of. Overall, a great year for this now consistant and constant frontrunner.


‘6. High Speed Circuits(1st)’

Interesting ranking. Not sure about RB being the fastest at high speed circuits like Monza, though. It appeared to me as if the McLarens and the Ferraris were faster on this particular sort of circuit.


Red Bull beat the usual suspects Ferrari and McLaren… but they admitted to over spending to win which goes to show that new teams with small budgets are not going anywhere.



What is the penalty for breaking the Resources Restriction Agreement in order to win the WDC and WCC?

Is Redbull now in the hands of the other teams after criticizing them for sniping at the illegality of their front wing?

Without any sanction applied to Redbull, the RRA is effectively dead.


Have they admitted to that?

James, has there been any indication that this is true and what is the level of spend allowed in the resource restriction agreement.


Cant deny that they had the best car, updated it better then their rivals and won the 2 throphies. In those terms, they had it all.

But James, isnt there alarm bells ringing here? Not since Williams perfected the Active Suspension in the early 1990’s has 1 car been heads and sholders above their rivals. They had 15 poles (from 19) and won only 9 races, thats not a very good statistic for any team. Most people who watch the sport would agree that they could & should have won more and had the titles wrapped up way before Abu Dahbi. Driver error cost them wins/points and their management style of the team has a lot to be desired with it being happy to hang its dirty laundry out for all to see. And now theres this talk on exactly how much they spent to get there.

Sure, people could say that what ever *It* is, *it* worked, and they won the WDC & WCC. But it could have been oh so easier for them. Im interested to see if Mclaren & Ferrari bring a car on par with the RB7 (or what its designation will be)

So my conclusion to their year is, yes, they won it. But boy did they make it hard on themselves. Id love to see how Mclaren, Ferrari and RBR (and Mercedes?) cope if they have similar cars, would be mouth watering.


Good review. RBR developed into a classic private F1 team; of course, they’ve got the money but they’re spending it the smart way.

They were clearly the best team in 2010 with the best car so it’s fair they’ve won both titles. Besides, it seems like they can manage their drivers to a certain degree which is tricky with any (selfish giant) F1 driver. We’ll never know what’s going on inside each team, that’s for sure but it’s DM’s team so he’s entitled to do whatever he wants with it.

Webber didn’t handle the pressure correctly in my opinion, he has a big tendency towards mind games with the press. In the end he lost the championship in Korea on his own. I think Webbo has a chance next year, at least he would be a popular champion.


Interesting that you’ve noted Dr. Marko saying “Austria decides everything”, James. While I believe Dietrich Mateschitz when he says Red Bull Racing’s credo is to “let its drivers race freely” (more so than I did McLaren when Ron Dennis was at the helm, at least), I cannot help but think Dr. Marko somewhat diverted from that behind the Big Boss’s back in order to make sure the home grown talent had more momentum swinging his way.

After all, isn’t it Dr. Marko running the RB Young Driver Program? And had Alonso or Webber won the title, how would that have made Marko look, given his program’s previous failures to launch young talented drivers into F1 superstardom (Bernoldi, Klien, Liuzzi, Speed, Hartley)?

I don’t mind team orders, as long as the team does not deny it and practice it in a malicious clandestine manner. Given Dr. Marko’s “Austria decides everything” quote, I think then that it is he who calls the shots at RBR rather than Christian Horner.

Although, RBR and Vettel did win the championship this year, I think the best move the team – and Mateschitz – can do for next year, is to remove Dr. Marko from having a say in team decisions and to let CH do his job. Dr. Marko is an accomplished man, no doubt; but he seems to be an overbearing and divisive figure who lacks a personal touch, especially during tense and fragile situations.


James, with all due respect, an alternative viewpoint: The team always backed Vettel. There are no “Corinthian” values at RB. They are just as cynical as any other team out there. They took it one step further this year (perhaps even more cynical?) and backed their number 1 driver to the extreme. RB threw in behind Vettel even when Weber was within a stones throw of taking the WDC. The fact that they decided to call this form of extreme team orders “fair” or “sportsmanlike” could be viewed as cynical in the extreme. Hats off to Red Bull and to Vettel. They did an amazing job this year. And your article is quite informative, but the Red Bull=Higher values (paraphrase)idea is highly debatable.


You forget to mention that if they had favoured Webber, they would have lost the title because since Spa, Vettel beat Webber in every race because Webber’s performance was average at best.

The only ones who have the opinion RBR favoured Vettel are Webber and Alonso fans, no one else.

I am totally unbiased, I don’t like Webber or Vettel or RBR. And I saw a team that gave both drivers same material with equal chances in everything.


I think that the Red Bull ethos reflects the target age of it’s market and also that they are seeking to introduce existing supporters of their brand, who may follow other sports, to F1. It might also stand them in good stead in new/under supported markets like America who don’t have a native team or drivers.

James’s comment about the older teams being “pragmatic, cynical and hard bitten” is probably true. I think that for fans who have already grown up with F1 it is easier to justify that pragmatism based on the historical context. But I think that more casual viewer, or younger and less experienced fans may find that harder to understand and less relevant to their enjoyment of the spectacle. I feel that Schumacher’s dominance and the obvious team orders actually hurt the sport in his period of dominance by turning of the casual fans. It is exactly those people that F1 needs to court to become regular viewers.

I believe the teams who visibly promote equality between their drivers and behave in a more “sporting” fashion will attract more fans in those new markets, particularly in this new era of team orders.


I honestly think that if Seb had been in Marks position, leading the championship, they would not have had this ‘we are not favouring one driver policy’. In black and white terms Seb has been an investment for Red Bull, and to justify that investment they needed for him to win. I really don’t think that Red Bull can sit high and mighty in the ‘fair is fair’ table. Ultimately everything they do as a team is to sell more tins of drink, and how to that better than for their home grown marketing man to win the championship. I am not getting at them, I just think it is all a smokescreen and that they and act the same as any other team. On a side note MW 2011 WDC


….raise it up after after qualifying,…



it can be said that many interesting racings have been held with the top cars qualified at rear due to some reasons, and on conditions that speed difference was quite fair to maintain numbers of overtaking, and it’s owing to tech breakthrough and sensible approach of men like Newey, etc. so an ‘adventurous’ approach is in great interest of spectacular F1 events. It would be interesting to perform voting for best race of the decade, though all races are unique.


I like the Redbull approach, apart from their policy of trying to remove individuality from their drivers by making them change their helmet design (my loathing for this knows no bounds). Good on you Mark for resisting!


I must admit I really disliked the team management’s behaviour this year, as honesty – from what they said publicly – seemed to not be too important to them at times. To make it worse, I was following the races on the bbc, who have a presenter who used to race for and still does work for Red Bull, so there was often a ‘slant’ to the reporting. And, to add insult to injury, I hear he may become one of the commentators!


I drank Red Bull drink once and I found it as undrinkable as a washing up liquid, but what they are doing for sport is outstanding.


Young people use it as a stimulant; it’s mixed with spirits like Jagermeister to make cocktails with names like ‘Jagerbomb’. The scene is pretty unsavory and the social costs are in the billions. I like Mark Webber and I’m sure Vettel is a nice enough kid, but I would never support a racing team that prays on the youth in this fashion. Far better to root for a good sportsman like Alonso, Captain Slow Schummi, Playboy Nico, or P. Diddy Hamilton… oh Jesus F1 is in trouble.


Horrible isn’t it what these young kids get up too, well at least it’s not cigarette money.


I like Red Bull, and I am 36.

It’s just a drink not a narcotic.


I agree many corporations appear to have a psychopathic disregard for the well being of all but the top echelon of management and shareholders, and I’m not a big fan of the Red Bull drink itself, but I think it’s going a little far to blame Red Bull for a lot of social ills that existed long before it showed up in the marketplace.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Red Bull didn’t invent the Jager-bomb. Like many mixed cocktails, its origins are murky at best, and likely happened in some bar far away from Red Bull HQ. To suggest that Red Bull is both responsible for its invention and its promotion is as irresponsible as the implication of guilt implied.

Second, Red Bull didn’t invent the “energy drink”. Ever heard of a couple of little known beverages known as COFFEE and COLA? They’ve been around so long, and their use has become so ubiquitous and commonplace, that people forget they are still officially classified as stimulants in the same class as Red Bull.

As an aside, did you know you can get high off of nutmeg, and even die of a toxic overdose of it? It’s true. Does that make Christmas eggnog an evil drink? No, but sometimes people do take the use of a substance, ANY substance, too far. This is not necessarily the fault of the vendor. If it was, cough syrup, paint thinner, PAM cooking spray, airplane glue and any other number of other potential intoxicants would be illegal.

So while your concern for our youth is commendable, I think it is misguided in pointing the finger at a company that hasn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary other than be very good at marketing themselves. I suggest you keep your eye on the ball and concentrate not on the suppliers of questionable substances, but on the reasons why human beings feel the need to alter their consciousness in the first place.

If you seriously do, you’ll quickly find there aren’t so many easy black and white answers.


@Bob: Thanks, I do my best. In similar spirits I am sure Smirnoff is glad you are defending vodka as a drink best consumed unmixed, particularly by young people while driving.


Mark V, very spirited corporate defence of Red Bull, which by the way, in my humble opinion (or IMHO to you cyberspace trendoids), is virtually undrinkable. I was driving in traffic recently and I swear that I could actually smell the Red Bull that the girls in the car in front were busy mixing with vodka. But anyway Mark good of you to have been on duty for RB during the Christmas season, excellent PR!


I agree, especially with the keeping the eye on the ball thing. Absolutely spot on.




What can I say about these new champions?

“Manufactured” champion or not, Vettel has a sense of humour. This is something new for formula one, A plus for that.

Also, they seem to be good at flexing their wings, just in time, just enough. Another A plus.

Sadly, the drink has awful taste. But even if I would like it´s taste, I would never make soup out of it(people using their soda for cooking- the ultimate goal of the company, I believe). The reason for that is team´s reaction to the famous crash in Turkey.

It is unbelievable, how much rubbish Horner and Marko were able to throw out of their mouth. Accidentally, they gave us very clear view of how much this team cares about “let the drivers race” principle.


Ok This whole red-bull assault has been a complete roller coaster. 🙂 Follow me through the turns.

1st… I was with them. RDR Good for the sport and look like they are passionate and committed.

2nd… After the Webber Vettel crash, I was dubious. Helmut Marko didn’t help matters. I feared I was looking at a team with a Ferrari type ethos. Oh no! WTF is wrong with these guys.

3rd… When they took Webber’s wing as a fan I was incensed. Poor Mark and good for him that he won the race and stuck it to them over the radio. Not bad for a number 2 at all!

4th… Vettel smashes button and doesn’t seem apologetic. I had now developed a distinct dislike for Vettel, Marko and now Horner a chap who I was very impressed with previously.

5th… Webber stirs more trouble. Now what’s going on? He seems to be complaining when everyone thought it was all settled. ??? A Redbull being straight or is Webber calling foul for no reason?

6th… Red Bull choose NOT to back Webber in the closing races like SF were doing with Alonso. Huh? I thought this is what they ‘should’ be doing. What have they got against Webber? Are they not obligated to help Webber seeing as Vettel is so far behind?

7th… Vettel wins the WDC. The policy of total parity was vindicated. Now I understood. Good move by RB even though it was a risk. I feel very happy for them and Vettel.

8th… Mark spills the beans on his damaged shoulder through another bike accident! WHAT!!?!??

Why didn’t he tell the team?!?! That’s not cricket…

Horner handles the story well and seems to be more then fair with Mark.

So all in all its been an absolute roller coaster! Final conclusion; On reflection RB are one of the most sporting and innovative teams in the paddock. They have restored my faith in them and their drivers.

Well done RBR. Bring on 2011!

PS Get Helmut Marko some lessons in diplomacy please.


I agree with Sosssoliso (above) re the ride/wing/floor height. It’s very misterious, that’s for sure! Also many journalists are going on about the so-called values and principals of RBR/Matisitch/Horner with regard to “team orders” or lack of them, but there was plenty of evidence that orders/favoritism were used by the managenent. Eg “Mark you have to save fuel”, which was why Vetel was able to catch and attempt to pass Mark but unfortunately misjudged the manoever. And how come Mark’s car was misteriously down on speed in the last race? And what about the misteriously slow starts that Mark’s car suffered from, but Vetal’s didn’t. It’s very easy to manage the lap times of a car if you want to favour one over the other, one psi too much or too little pressure in a tyre, a couple of degrees of ignition retard, .5 degree camber, 2 liters less fuel so the driver has to use a fuel saving mode or driving style to reduce fuel consumption. I’m sorry but I’m convinced that there was favoritism/manipulation in favour of Vetal, and the principles of the management were not so snowy white as they try to lead us to believe. But apart from all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the season, and all the “hype” that went with it, and the final outcome was probably correct, RBR deffinately deserved both championships, although I would have prefered Mark to win the WDC.



Wow, talk about seeing everything through Webber fan glasses.

Vettel is the faster driver [mod]


Disagree all you like Mak but there are plenty fans worldwide (not just Webber fans) who feel that Webber was hard done by, by Red Bull with some of their decisions. Its easy to say the things you said when its not your fave driver being screwed.


You left out all the advantages Webber had (lighter chassis in Silverstone and Brazil which Vettel didn’t have for instance, which gained him a few tenths) and twisted the truth to make it look like he was a saint.

You are a blinded Webber fan, I am an unbiased F1 fan (don’t care for RBR, Webber, or Vettel) and I don’t see anything wrong done by RBR. In fact they showed sportmanship and all I saw was Webber whining and asking people to hold his hand to win a championship.

Truth is, Vettel is a faster driver, fact. No matter how Webber fans want to twist that, you can’t change that fact. Since Spa Webber didn’t come close to Vettel. Why blame everyone except Webber?


Hi Paul,

I can’t remember which magazine I read it in, but probably Wheels, but it had a theory on Webber and Vettel. It basically argued that a key factor was that Webber had to slim down to get within 10 kg of Vettel and that was with Vettel increasing in weight by 4 kg over 2008. This gave Vettel greater energy reserves (aided by not having a cracked shoulder bone) in Abu Dhabi. Vettel also had 10 kg of ballast to trim the car dynamics and a lower centre of gravity than Webber. More than enough to give the 10th of second that was often missing in qualifying.

As for Abu Dhabi, the article quoted Webber as saying that the Red Bulls weren’t generating the tyre temperature that the McLarens and Ferraris were in evening. Therefore Red Bull went for longer runs in qualifying. Webber said that Vettel pushed harder on the out lap on got tyre temperature that he didn’t. Webber also seemed to be having a Singapore style event where he was struggling with some corners and Ted Kravitz reported that Webber was looking at Vettel’s telemetry to make up time.

The events in Turkey and to a lesser extent the UK to have a sense of favouritism (the article says Marko was heard saying after Korean qualifying “that was too close”), but overall, I believe that with the ballast advantage, however significant, Vettel in the RB6 was faster than Webber in the RB6. The car set up is unlikely to be compromised as in effect there are two teams with in the team, both aiming to win. I think the difference is emotional and tactical and not at all technical.


The first para is correct.


Yeah agree. I can’t help feeling that, had the situation been reversed ie Vettel leading the points over Mark, then “The Team” would’ve had no qualms whatsoever about backing Vettel 100% with Mark reluctantly supporting (if at all). Horner and Marko are soo transparent with their love for Vettel its laughable. And with Marko himself saying “Austria makes the decisions” its not hard to work out that the drivers are “free to race” when Vettel is behind but when he’s in front there’s a distinct lack of support for one side of the Red Bull garage.


Hi Paul!

Whilst you do bring up several valid points, in that it’s very easy to undermine another car’s speed to favor the other driver, I doubt this is the case. Firstly about the slow starts. We need to remember that Vettel has had his fair share of them as well, in races such as Silverstone and Hockenheim (amongst others). He made quite a bad start at Abu Dhabi as well, but was saved by the short pit straight, allowing him to maintain his lead into T1 and T2.

Next, if in fact the team did let Mark have less fuel so he had to go onto fuel-save a lap or so earlier than Vettel, this would’ve gained him a pace advantage earlier in the race, around a tenth or so. Not to mention it would punish his tyres less. Had Mark been heavier than he was in the race (in terms of fuel weights) then he wouldn’t have as big a gap to Vettel, and Vettel would’ve been much closer.

Re: Abu Dhabi, it mystified me that he was so off the pace of Vettel, as it’s clear he’s massively upped his game in f1 this year, and I don’t think anyone, at the start of the year, called on Mark as a title tip. Having said that, it could be because of the pressure of title heat. Some drivers soak up the pressure while others can’t handle it and sort of “fade away” (not necessarily saying that’s what happened to Mark) having said that, Mark alluded that his driving style didn’t suit the Abu Dhabi circuit in his post-qualifying interview. This could be evidenced by how he was similarly off the pace of Vettel last year in Abu Dhabi. He either finished 17, or 27 seconds behind Vettel last year (I can’t remember which)

In fact, he was plagued by the same problems this year as last year – he couldn’t seem to find the grip and confidence from the option tyres. Last year he was fine on the prime tyres, and then when he stuck on the options they degraded massively on Mark’s car, and he was clearly struggling, especially the last 2 laps. His problem in the race was also that he couldn’t get the options working, and he quickly wore them down, and had to change for tyres.




Nice reasonable post, well done


I still would like know (as Iamsure many others around the world would) how you could run a car on Fumes (Qualifying) so low and yet when you fill the tank (race fuel)after the event, the same car does not bottom out…i.e. have its under side hitting the tarmac.


There are many ways to achieve this, all illegal under the tech regs.

Most likely was the lever which was mentioned by Vettel. The regs say that tools must be required, is the in situ lever a tool?

The regs also say that the suspension settings may not be altered between Qualy and Race start, though they can be altered during the race in the pit.


great summary. I would add that especially Vettel ideally suits Mateschitz’ vision of the team, and I would argue that the team indeed is – to some level – built around Vettel, and power of Dr Marko is a living proiof of it.


They did a good job, I read however, that they need a variance on the spending cap.

Mohammed Al-Momen

Redbull gave Formula 1 wings to fly out from the typical top teams (ie Mclaren, Ferrari) and proved that independent teams can still make it. For that I’m glad that we have them in the sport and I just hope the new 3 teams (not new anymore) could follow their example. I really hope next year is as good as this year’s racing.


I agree, and would like to add the most valuable resource on the grid: Mind [of the car designer]. This is what the New teams must have, and must invest in.

2010 Winning car by Adrian Newey
2009 Winning car by Ross Brawn

The last two winning cars were designed by ‘old school boys’ who’ve won many of the last two decade’s Constructors’ championships. So, if the New teams want to ‘play ball’, they’ve gotta invest in developing a talented designer.


Except that Ross Brawn isn’t a designer and he wasn’t during Ferrari and Schumacher’s ‘glory years’ either – that was Rory Byrne. The 2009 Honda/Brawn and 2010 Mercedes were both the products of faceless design teams, with Brawn as technical director/manager.

Interestingly, the supposedly retired Byrne has lately been working with Patrick Head from Williams, on devising the new technical specifications that will apply to F1 cars from 2012 onwards.


Unfortunately, it’s not as positive as many think. Significant part of Brawn GP success was the money which Honda pumped into the car. You have to remember that Brawn inherited a ready design worth 500 million dollars. As far as Red Bull goes, the main part of the success is Adrian Neway, a genius known from heavy-hitters such as McLaren and Williams, other is Mateschitz’s money, probably this year bigger than it should be according to the resources restriction program. The real value of the team will be known when Neway will retire. If they keep up with Ferrari and McLaren then we’ll have a genuine proof that private teams can achieve success in modern big-money-driven F1.

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