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History of Oracle Red Bull Racing as 2023 F1 season gets underway

March 9, 2023

It can sometimes be hard to fully appreciate the immense scale of the achievements of Oracle Red Bull Racing in just under two decades in Formula 1. The Team, set up in 2004, has conquered all before them during that time and under the stewardship of CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner, Oracle Red Bull Racing, with PokerStars Casino as a partner, is the team to catch once again in the 2023 season.

The Beginnings

Of course, the path to numerous team and individual titles, along with periods of domination would take time, but from humble beginnings in 2004, a mighty, race-winning machine has emerged. Horner and the team around him, needed to build from scratch though. They needed to make the right decisions early on to set themselves up for a glorious future.

Working out how to match their rivals and getting the right people and the right partners onboard to help achieve their goals was key. In this, the team would consistently excel.

In the Team’s first season in 2005 (replacing Jaguar) they finished a very respectable mid-table. With legendary Scottish driver David Coulthard onboard, they had a cool head and a driver with vast experience – a great addition to any rookie team. Alongside Coulthard was Christian Klien – a young Austrian driver with plenty of skill and ambition.

With the addition of Australian driver Mark Webber in 2007 – in place of Klein – Red Bull captured fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship that year

It would only take until the 2006 season for Red Bull Racing to score their first podium finish – at Monaco, of course – with Coulthard driving brilliantly to land third place at Formula 1’s showpiece Grand Prix.

With the addition of Australian driver Mark Webber in 2007 – in place of Klein – the Team captured fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship that year. The following year saw the team cement their place as one with designs on cracking into the upper echelons of the sport.

On the Rise

And then with the dawning of 2009, Red Bull Racing would start to reach heights that many thought impossible. A young German driver by the name of Sebastian Vettel came into the Team to replace the retiring David Coulthard. Nothing would ever be the same again.

That season saw Red Bull Racing earn their very first Grand Prix victory, as Vettel took the chequered flag in China, followed in second place by teammate Mark Webber. The car the Team produced that year – RB5 – took full advantage of new rule changes in the sport which focused on aerodynamic properties.  

With a total of six Grand Prix wins in 2009, Red Bull Racing were a team going places – and in a hurry. Mark Webber would also claim a victory at the Nürburgring and the Team finished in second place in the Constructors’ Championship. As a warning of what was to come in 2010, Red Bull Racing closed out the last three races of the 2009 season with a hat-trick of victories – they were improving at an incredible pace and capable of doing so during a season; something that many teams struggle to achieve.

Team to beat

The dynamic duo of Vettel and Webber were earmarked among the title favourites in 2010 and would prove the bookies right with the young German landing the driver’s title that year and the Team taking the Constructors’ Championship. That both Vettel and Webber went into the last round that year with a title possible for both showed the immense skill of the drivers and was the culmination of consistent hard work and ingenuity by the entire team.

The following year would cement Vettel – and Red Bull Racing as Formula One’s team to beat. Another Drivers’ title was Vettel’s along with a second Constructors’ title for the Team. These truly were incredible times for all at Red Bull Racing. Barely six years in existence and they were sitting dominantly atop the sport’s throne.

Changing of the Guard

2012 proved a slightly trickier assignment for the Team. As was expected, the other teams began to fight back. A tough opening half to the season was followed by an incredible spin of race victories for the Team – the ability to adapt and improve during a season was once again on display. A Drivers’ title for Vettel and a Constructors’ one for the Team the crowning glory to a season.

A similar narrative played out the following year in 2013. A slow start to the year was scrubbed away with a dominant display from Vettel, grabbing nine race victories in a row to reclaim the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles.

There was a changing of the guard in the close season that same year as the much-loved Mark Webber hung up his helmet and paid a fond farewell to Formula 1.

However, his replacement – fellow countrymate Daniel Ricciardo – was an exciting proposition.

After such an era of success, there was always going to be a period of readjustment and ultimately a fallow time for the Team. This began right at the start of the 2014 season. Changes in rules relating to new hybrid power units altered the landscape for Red Bull Racing and the Team, and cars, struggled for pace. Still, there were highlights that year in the shape of three race wins for new boy Ricciardo and a silver medal finish for the team in the Constructors’ Championship.

More change would follow with Sebastian Vettel’s departure at the end of that season. 2015, with Daniil Kvyat onboard, proved a luckless season for Red Bull Racing. With no Grand Prix victories recorded, the Team finished a disappointing fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.

New Dawn

While the following year would not see an immediate return to title winning ways for Red Bull Racing, it did see the dawning of something that would change the fortunes of the team dramatically in the years to come. A young Dutchman, whose father Jos was a well known F1 driver in the 1990s and early 2000s, was promoted into the team to replace Kvyat mid-season. His name was Max Verstappen and he laid a marker of his incredible potential immediately with a victory at the Spanish Grand Prix – his very first race!  

After such a meteoric start to his career in Formula 1, all eyes were on Max in 2017. However, after a slow start to the season, Red Bull Racing did manage to improve as the season progressed – thanks to mid-season developments – with victories in Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Mexico – with Daniel taking the initial win and Max grabbing the other two. 

A third-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017 was matched with the same outcome in 2018 as the Team continued development behind the scenes. The highlight of 2018 was a victory at long last at Red Bull’s home Grand Prix in Austria; thanks to a fantastic race from Max at the Red Bull Ring.

A move to a Honda-powered engine, and the end of their association with Renault, was the big news ahead of the 2019 season. With that change came word that Daniel Ricciardo was set to depart and, in his place, came Pierre Gasly from Toro Rosso.

The first victory of the Honda-powered era got underway that year at the Team’s home Grand Prix in Austria. Several excellent qualification and podium finishes spelled out a good start to the new partnership.

New success

2020 would see the season hit by the global fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. With Max and the previous season’s Rookie of the Year, Alex Albon, in the drivers’ seats, the season eventually got the greenlight in July. The promise which Max had shown was afforded the chance to come to the fore during a shortened 17-race calendar. Victories in Silverstone and Abu Dhabi, along with 12 top-3 finishes was a great return during a trying season for everyone.

Another change in drivers saw Sergio Perez step into the Red Bull Racing garage for the 2021 season – and what a season it would be. Ten victories would propel Max towards the Drivers’ Championship with an incredibly tense win on the last day in Abu Dhabi. Sergio would also claim a race win at Azerbaijan. The Team would end the season in second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Cementing their place once again at the summit of Formula 1, 2022 saw Max claim another Drivers’ Championship title with 15 wins. Sergio Perez finished in third place and the Team clinched their first Constructors’ title since 2013..

With the new season set to begin, 2023 is shaping up nicely to become one of the most exciting and intriguing of recent times.