After 17 years, Red Bull finally dominate F1

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It’s taken 17 years to achieve Formula 1 domination but the folks in Milton Keynes have finally achieved that position having secured their 4th consecutive World Constructor’s and World Driver’s championships this weekend at the Indian Grand Prix.

While the 2013 season had its moments of boos and jeers, the team kept its head down and produced an incredible car piloted by an incredible driver. Every driver who aspires to reach Formula 1 wants exactly what Sebastian Vettel has—super skills coupled with a car designed to win and a team committed to spending the money it takes to achieve success.

The endless debate of whether it’s the Adrian Newey-designed car or Vettel’s talent that has secured such record-breaking performances is ongoing but F1 requires both to win titles. It does not require both to do pretty well in F1. Vettel winning from Pole Position requires Sebastian to actually secure Pole Position and that eludes the best of drivers including his teammate, Mark Webber.

Red Bull’s success may be rubbing fans the wrong way as they feel they recently left behind the 2000-2004 domination of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari and now have to contend with another German and another team winning everything. The fear of tedium and predictable results creeps into their psyche and starts to lodge there like an unwanted guest.

It’s understandable to some point but lamentable when you consider what it takes to achieve this level of success and also realize that Red Bull aren’t doing all of this work for my mere enjoyment and entertainment value each fortnight. They do it to win and the money and opportunity eclipses my couch and 20oz can of Red Bull each race morning.

Red Bull started life as Stewart Grand Prix in 1997 when Sir Jackie Stewart and his son launched the Ford works-supported team. Later, Ford acquired the team and renamed in Jaguar Racing. Red Bull eventually purchased the team from Ford in 2004. Since then, the rise to the top has been slow but methodical.

If anyone recalls Adrian Newey’s intricate designs of the past, they’ll know that he can be too aggressive in the design. Anyone remember this?

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The team has waded through murky waters of trial and error and driver changes that have been both good and bad. They endured challenging seasons as Renault claimed two titles on the trot and Ferrari were still kicking pretenders to the throne aside with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel. Even McLaren were thwarting Red Bull wins by unleashing their own young star Lewis Hamilton.

While memories often prove short, Red Bull didn’t just appear in F1 and start winning everything due to hoards of cash thrown at a sport. It has taken thousands and thousands of hours to produce the right recipe for success. Ferrari has done it, McLaren have done it, Williams have done it and so to has Renault.

While some like to attempt to marginalize Red Bull as a ‘energy drink company’, I find that a tad offensive as the team is a racing team born from some of the sports purest DNA in the form of Sir Jackie Stewart and Ford. The team members are no less racers than anyone at Williams or McLaren or Ferrari. They live and breathe racing just like all the great teams of Formula One. Sure, they are owned and supported by Red Bull but when was it embarrassing to be a beverage company that has a strong interest in motorsport?

That criticism may be more plausible if the team weren’t comprised of legacy F1 heroes and employees who have worked tirelessly to win in a sport where winning is very difficult and dominating is nearly impossible.

Red Bull, like McLaren, Ferrari, Williams, Renault and others, will eventually be reeled in by competition. No one thought Ferrari would end their domination in 2004 such was the juggernaut of Brawn, Schumacher, Todt and Byrne. Fans had become jaded and lethargic toward the sport and even the FIA tried to impose regulations to slow the team down but in the end, time is the grand equalizer and it stopped Ferrari when many others couldn’t. It will slow Red Bull down as well.

As for Vettel, if you’re still just not quite sure he’s a legend of F1, you may need to re-think your position. He is already in the history books with four titles and only three men have more. If you feel that Vettel needs some varying situations to prove he’s a champ such as a different team or starting from the back to prove he can pass, I can assure you he’s proven the latter already. As for a different team? Who knows? Time will tell.

Just know that many fans were not requiring this myriad of life situations in order to prove that Lewis Hamilton was as great as he is. They were ascribing him as legend the day he beat Alonso and Lewis had no world titles to his name at that point.

Vettel may not be your cup of team and you may not like the Red Bull domination but this refrain has been playing out in F1 for decades now. I loved when my team was dominant in the early 2000’s but I would never deny another team’s dominance or slate the sport for having a dominant team such as Red Bull. I’m elated for them and will be if McLaren or Mercedes or Ferrari does something similar in the years to come.

As for Vettel, I have loved this kid since he entered Formula 1 and I think he’s being harshly judged. I’ve read fans screaming hatred over his demeanor, his ruthless nature and even his ethnicity. That’s unfortunate.

Vettel is a champion, a rare talent, a good person and a great ambassador for the sport but I can’t make the world like Sebastian because being a fan has its nuance as well. You cheer for some and love to hate others. Some love Man United and others loathe Arsenal. I get that point. Denying that both clubs are good is simply denying truth. Denying Vettel his just respect as a multi-champion is equally odd and ginning up silly reasons such as Multi 21 or whining is really not saying much…in fact, it’s a bit specious to be honest.

History will show that Sebastian Vettel won four titles at the age when Alain Prost one his first race! It will show that Red Bull had the measure of the entire grid and in the hands of Sebastian Vettel, it took on , arguably, the most talented grid in decades of F1 and succeeded. It will show his status among the legends he so dearly admires and I am grateful to have seen it—just as I was with Senna, Prost and Schumacher.

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