Red Bull is a bellwether to F1’s health

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All championship-winning teams eventually come back to earth and such was the case for McLaren, Williams, Lotus, Benetton, Ferrari and Red Bull. The fact is, it is very difficult to retain that level of performance over a multi-year span and there’s no criticism from me because I understand how difficult it is.

Let me say this up front, I have always been a Ferrari fan since I was a young boy so my defense of Red Bull is not born from some unhinged fandom I possess. It is born from a series that has, in my opinion, taking the stuffing out of Red Bull and I’ve not been happy about it since 2014.

According to, Ross Brawn says Red Bull and Honda must be a title contender again. That’s rich coming from the guy who was key to ushering in the current hybrid power units which instantly relegated Red Bull to an also-ran status and denied them any chance of being on par with Mercedes (his team at the times) or Ferrari.

“Honda teaming up with Red Bull will be positive because Red Bull become a full works team,” said Brawn in an interview with the F1 website.

“It’s always a different challenge when you are a works team with an engine manufacturer. You have to hold hands and you have got to jump in together, work together, and be as one and that is the strength of that opportunity.

“It’s something I have always focused on because it really does give you some great chances.

“Red Bull have now got to grasp that opportunity with Honda and get back into the really sharp end.

“They have to become a championship contender again.”

A few seasons ago, I read many comments from fans who were more than happy to see the rear end of Red Bull telling them to leave the sport if they didn’t like the Renault engine and weren’t happy about the situation they were in. I found that misplaced and unguided by the facts to be honest.

Red Bull spend more on the sport, and in the sport, promoting it than most all other teams and as an independent manufacturer, they are and have done much better than their peers, Williams and McLaren. They own two teams in the series instead of just one and have had the most robust young driver program that has delivered champions and future champions.

I found it strange for F1 pundits, journalists and fans to be so dismissive of Red Bull’s concerns when they couldn’t get a competitive engine supply from Mercedes or Ferrari to fight for wins. From my perspective, they’ve been crapped on since their run of titles from 2010 to 2013. These regulation changes were squarely aimed at manufacturers and they systematically rendered this series to a two-horse event while reducing all independent teams as mid-field fodder.

I’m glad that Ross has now recognized the importance that Red Bull has within the sport and I couldn’t agree with him more about their moving to a real works team where McLaren couldn’t. I also, at the expense of my own favorite team, would love nothing more than to see Red Bull come straight back and pummel the competition as a sort of retribution for forcing them into a crap position for five years.

If you don’t agree with my assessment, I would direct you over to Autosport where Jonathan Noble wrote a very telling and compelling piece of the last 100 races and how damning it is to F1’s reality. Mr. Noble is much more staid than I am about it and that’s because he’s a gentlemen and professional. Here’s just a little taste from Mr. Noble at Autosport.

Wins by team

SeasonRacesMercedesFerrariRed Bull

Points by team

SeasonMercedesFerrariRed Bull


If that doesn’t explain the situation we are in, I am not sure what will. It also should explain why this last five years has been a serious issue for Red Bull as well as all the other teams. I get berated for saying back in 2014 that Mercedes loaded the deck and would have a baked-in advantage for the duration of the hybrid regulations. Where are the apologies?

Red Bull Racing is a team that should and must stay in F1 and for that reason, I hope they can achieve with Honda what McLaren said they were going to do. For McLaren, Williams and the rest, I hope Ross realizes that his compromise on the hybrid engines for 2021 isn’t going to help matters and that he has to do something to balance the pendulum. You don’t want Mercedes or Ferrari to leave the sport but in the end, something has to give.

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Fast Freddy

Red Bull ran their cars downtown Austin and NYC and then in the dirt at Austin. Who does that? Only Red Bull. And as an Acura owner I’m all for Honda proving all the nay sayers wrong. I’m getting excited for the new season already.


I am still surprised to this day RedBull remains in F1 even after all the bad-mouthing on Renault. They could spend that $250million on something completely different like America’s Cup yachting or WEC team. There was no way either Mercedes or Ferrari were going to sell them “customer” engines to a team very capable of beating them. With no change in engine standards, why stay in, Red Bull?


The solution is simple but the powers that be don’t want to budge. Bring back the V10 or continue with Mercedes dominance adinfanitum.


Yes, but back when they changed to hybrids, the manufacturers could see a way of promoting that in as a marketing tool and the tech they could use in their road cars.
Whereas now, it would be two faced to switch back and a damn hard sell to their board and the public.
I can’t see it happening.

Richard Piers

Negative your basic surmise starts incorrectly. Renault were one of the prime movers in promoting the hybrid concept. Had Red Bull worked a little more closely with them instead of indulging in hostile criticism it’s possible that their torrid time would have been a little less torrid. To blame Ross Brawn is also wrong. He took a huge gamble when buying Honda F1 that paid off spectacularly. It was an extraordinary result to be able to change engines at the last moment, denude the team of personnel and then to dominate that season’s racing. He might have hoped for good… Read more »


I would partially agree with your points made regarding mercedes however I think that what happened with the turbo hybrid era is a shift from the engine being a spec component, which the V8s effectively were, with a shift away from what had been an engineering formula based on aero for the previous years and dominated in a different style by red bull. Mercedes were very smart realising the investment required and the difference the engine would make in the new formula. Brawn exploiting a loophole in the same way they did the double diffuser, the real killer was the… Read more »


In a side note maybe the real fault of F1 is the influence of brawn and Newey as every championship since the early 90’s has been won by a Newey or brawn led team (if you count mercedes today as such) the only exception being Alonso in the Renault (which makes his titles look like a bigger achievement).