Who runs Red Bull Racing?

People in Formula 1 have been asking for some time now who runs the Red Bull Racing team. Is it team principal Christian Horner? Or is it Red Bull’s “motorsport consultant” Dr Helmut Marko, on behalf of Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz?

In recent weeks it has seemed that Marko was the man calling the shots. Horner said that the decision to give Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber’s front wing at the British Grand Prix was his decision, but other sources suggest that the order came from the Austrians. This would not be a surprise. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

We now hear that further decisions have also been made in Austria that may not have gone down well in the Milton Keynes area. At the moment the team’s test drivers are Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo and New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley. The two were supposed to alternate the reserve driver duties on a race by race basis, while also competing in the Renault World Series. Part of the work was in the team’s simulator where Hartley is highly-rated by those who work with him. He has been doing most of the work on development of the RB7 for next season. On the race tracks he has been having a pretty poor year. Ricciardo is currently second in the Renault World Series, with two wins in 12 races, while Hartley (below) is sixth, having failed to win a race.

Brendan Hartley's World Series car, Monaco. © Kalisz/Sutton

We hear that Hartley has now been axed from the Red Bull Junior Team and that this was done without any consultation with the F1 team, which was happy with the work that he has been doing. The word is that Hartley’s place in the World Series will be taken by France’s Jean Eric Vergne, who is currently dominating the British Formula 3 Championship with Carlin Motorsport. The calendar is such that Vergne can do both championships without any real overlap. Ricciardo will become the sole Red Bull Racing reserve driver, but the one question that has not been addressed is who will be doing the simulator work on the new car now that the driver with the experience has been booted out.

The Red Bull Junior Team has been going since 2001 when there were seven drivers included. This increased to 20 in 2004 but has been reducing in number ever since. The first junior to make it to F1 was Christian Klien in 2004, although he was later dumped. Others who got to F1 with Red Bull backing were Tonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed, Sebastian Vettel, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Karun Chandhok. Thus far Vettel is the only Red Bull Junior Team member to have won F1 races. The surviving members of the Red Bull Junior Team this year are Ricciardo, Vergne, Carlos Sainz Jr and Danii Kvyat.

38 thoughts on “Who runs Red Bull Racing?

  1. great post Joe and a very interesting subject. There certainly seems to be a lot going behind the scene that we don’t see with RBR. At some point Horner will probably write a book about RBR that will be a great read…

  2. How F1 treats drivers, I understand why Kimi walked last year. Hopefully Hartley gets another shot at F1. Ever since reading Tommy Byrne’s biography, it seems you need friends in high places more than raw talent.

  3. Hi Joe
    It’s interesting to note that the “pre race” show we get before each F1 race here in Australia features Mark Webber doing “a lap” of whatever track they are racing that week – inside the Red Bull Simulator. MW Commentates the lap talking through the things he looks for in getting a good lap together…however…things have changed there too

    The young Aussie Danial Ricciardo has now joined in the last 2 – “pre race” – simulator laps we have seen.
    He doesnt talk yet – as this is a skill Red Bull are yet to teach him obviously… (Helmuts been busy teaching MW everything he knows after all)

    I would say its a way of introducing him to the Australian audience…but …he doesnt talk…nor does he really feature in the “sim” lap

    Do you think that the issues that may or may not be showing themsleves between MW and Red Bull Manangement could effect the deal the young Aussie has with them going forward?
    If the young Kiwi has done all the development on next years RB car so far….and RBR have let him go – wouldnt he be a very handy “consultant” for another team working on next years car?

    On the other hand – next years cars have only just started development…and the end result in 7-8months time will be very different to the car he’s been developing…… so guess what i am asking is…where does this leave the kiwi?…not that i care
    I am an Aussie
    He’s a kiwi
    I was just asking
    I dont mind us letting them win the cricket occasionally – but F1???

  4. Oh dear. Red Bull seem to be doing a lot to lose the fans this year. As a Kiwi I’m very disappointed that they dropped Brendon – I can’t see him find sponsorship like that easily.

    Seems pretty quick when he’s quite a young guy too – also a bit odd that if he’s providing value to the team that he gets dropped like that.

    Along with the other stuff that’s been happening this year, the fact that Red Bull are being run with “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” is just another reason to dislike them.

    How have they managed to create such a PR disaster this year? We all loved them before that!

  5. Can’t say I’m too shocked to hear that Hartley’s been given the chop from the Red Bull Junior Team.

    I was surprised that with their rotating-door policy at Red Bull, Helmut Marko decided to keep him on their books for another year.

    He’s aggressive and quick, but the consistency isn’t there and I think he lacked maturity.

    A shame though, because there were glimmers of excellence (Monaco this year for example), but those were too few and far between.

  6. Hmmm interesting indeed. Also sounds messy.

    I’m sort of glad Mateschitz has said something about the ‘favouritism’ but Marko really ought not to speak. Looking forward to Germany race.

  7. If the RBJ Team is being wound down, and there is some urgency to win the Drivers or Constructors F1 crown (or both), does that point to the possibility that Dietrich Mateschitz wants out of F1 at some point in the near future? Red Bull were looking for a title sponsor.

  8. What the heck is going on?
    It seems that Helmut is really enjoying borrowing Deitrich’s authority at every opportunity. It sounds more and more like a little kid running to his rich parents at every opportunity.
    No doubt if things go badly, he’ll have someone lined up to blame. Perhaps if he just wrote the cheques and left the team to do their thing, RBR would be winning the titles.

    Seems to me that Helmut is living a vicarious existence through Deitrich and Vettel. He was unlucky and unable to achieve as a driver, so he’s trying to have his day in the spotlight now.

  9. The best thing about Dr Helmut Marko is his name. It really does make him sounds like some sinister bond bad guy. Which is a role he is really trying very hard to achieve, and is not far off. They dont seem to realise that F1 for most businesses is simply a hugely exciting, expensive, advertising platform. And from that point of view, this being their most successful racing year has possibly been their least successful PR year. cheers Dr Marko.

  10. What’s up with the “Dr”. Do we have to call him this, just because he was able to finish a study? I am sure Adrian Newey has a degree in something, but i never see a title before his name.

  11. While I do tend to believe that the “Austrian’s” would rather Vettel to win the world championship (as some of there decisions this year would suggest) it is interesting that both their reserves drivers were antipodeans, indicating maybe they don’t prefer Vettel because of his germanic heritage and maybe more because they want to justify the millions spent on the young driver program. I hope Webber blasting the team doesn’t put them off aussies and kiwis, because there is not enough harboring of talent (for f1) down under!

  12. Given RB’s public dislike of France, it’s surprising that they’ve taken on a French driver, no? Or, perhaps this is part of a plan to try to open up that market for RB sales?

  13. Joe, any thoughts on Dr. Marko’s nose for talent? I always remember him mainly for breaking up with Sauber when the team wanted Kimi and he thought Enrique Bernoldi was a better bet. Truly the only Red Bull ‘graduate’ to come good has been Vettel and he only came to the fore in F1 terms when BMW ran him. I appreciate the Red Bull scheme is more about promoting an aggressive ‘yoof’ image than it really is abuot bringing on brilliant young drivers, but you have to ask whether such schemes (including the ones latterly run by Toyota, Honda and Renault) really serve a worthwhile purpose. I suppose the likes of Liuzzi and Christian Klien may never have got to F1 without Red Bull but equally I wonder if their long-term prospects weren’t damaged by the association also.

    The way to go surely has to be McLaren’s with Hamilton – spot someone who really is a talent and invest seriously in him rather than dilly dally with this driver and that driver according to how cool their haircuts are and then drop them in short order when they underperform slightly.

  14. I believe both drivers new at the start of the year if they didnt perform one was going to get the boot.So unfortunately
    Hartley has to go….Sad though as he has been doing all the development on the 2011 car…it will be interesting where Daniel goes to next… year i thought hed have a drive and Mark would move on and retire does he then go toro rosso for 1 year 2011 then move to RBR in 2012… love to have a crystal ball…

  15. I thought the article would answer the question in its title, but it doesn’t do it. It even goes off-topic quite quickly as far as I can see! 🙂

  16. I struggle to believe that Brendon Hartley was doing development driving for a new car. I have watched his career in the junior formula and while he can be very quick he has never been consistent. He seems to be the kind of driver who when the stars are aligned can be devastating but at other time he is nowhere. The fact Ricciardo is thrashing him this season could easily have been predicted.

    Ricciardo seems much more in the test/development driver mould and would seem the more natural choice for that job.

    Maybe when Hartley is in the simulator the engineers can control him and help him produce more consistent performances. It seems insane that anyone would sack the guy doing all the development driving for next year’s car.

  17. if you say Mateschitz backwards with a silen z it becomes Schitzmate! nuff said….thought id phuk around like Bullshitt3rs and play with words and their meanings like they do……Red to signify anger and Bull for cr4p!!!!! Angry Crap!!!!………..what the hells am i on about? oh well……8 litres of Stella and ilose the plot! #:)

  18. Great insight once again Joe. It is clear that the upper echelon hold many of their drivers in contempt. Just look at the trail of bodies they left between Red Bull and Torro Rosso.

  19. I remember Hartley being treated strangely last year. He was the reserve driver for both RBR and STR, then half way through the season it was announced he was stepping down to concentrate on his racing and Alguersuari was taking on the reserve roll. The next thing you know Bourdais is dropped and Alguersuari is racing.

  20. I think it’s eminently clear that Marko is running the team, and he’s doing a very poor job of it.

    Horner’s terribly sad series of lies long ago exposed this truth. but leaks from within the team have overwhelmingly confirmed the state of affaris.

    Horner’s lies aren’t malicious, they’re just face saving his embarrassing position as a puppet leader. Who wouldn’t be embarrassed in his place? The man is purportedly running the fastest squad in F1, all while having not more than a few ounces of actual power.

    I do expect Horner is saddled with the chores of day to day operations, but when it comes to any big decisions, Marko makes all the calls.

    While it hasn’t been widely reported, sources inside the team have told reporters that the wing change decision came directly from Austria. This completely contradicts Horner’s explanation that he and Newey made the call. Face saving by Horner.

  21. I think it’s appalling, I hope Hartley gets a drive somewhere next season and [like Kimi] shows them what they’ve missed.

    The RBR apple seems to have gone sour and they’re not the team I thought they were.

  22. @Aussiecarl…observations well expressed, and Marko has it seems taken careful aim at his own foot and let fly.
    I wonder if the “sacking” gets “rescinded” iun coming weeks or as Joe observes whether the tail is indeed wagging the dog at Red Bull. Brendon’s very fast on his day, but the current WSR environment for some reason doesn’t seem to suit him…he’s a genius at car set-up though, in both virtual and real-time testing; I doubt the F1 operation wants to lose him.
    Oh and Aussie vs Kiwi: head butting at the Tour, early exits from the America’s Cup, Ricciardo sliding in under Brendon’s heels…and let’s NOT mention that underarm problem your cricketers had all those years ago!
    …just jokes you understand…

  23. excellent insight. red bull certainly have gone from the ‘give you wings’ partyboy image to a large secretive corporate giant. you should get a spike of traffic soon, news has broken in NZ of this with this site quoted as the authority.

  24. Sounds like Hartley needed a good engineer to help him through the races. Actually if Marko’s past form is any guide, Hartley will probably come back and dominate the local touring car scene like a certain Craig Lowndes did after his poor run in F3000 in Marko’s team when he didn’t have an engineer until towards the end of the season when he was team mate to a certain Columbian driver who now races in NASCAR

  25. I’m a personal friend of Brendon and I can tell you that his career will most definitely be over. Our drivers in New Zealand struggle to find sponsorship of about (50,000 pound) to run in the local series, where they get full tv coverage. There is no chance of raising the millions to compete in Europe. At least he can still claim that he is the youngest driver ever to win the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, but after 6 years of living in foreign countries (Some years where no English was spoken by the locals) that is all he will be coming home with.

  26. This could be a major strategic error by Red Bull. I’d pounce on Hartley fast if were a team…particularly one of the top ones. They would be shrewd to grab Hartley to gleen any and all info it can for the insight into what the 2011 Red Bull and Newey have in store for next year.

  27. I think Marko could arguably be held responsible for Red Bull losing this year’s titles if it all comes to pass. He seems to be championing Vettel more for his own programme and to keep himself employed.

    Vettel needs no help, and is fast becoming the villain of the piece, apart from he has done absolutley nothing wrong.

    Could not agree more with you sentiment in GP+. That boy needs no help, and if he did he’s not the driver we think he is.

    If Mateschitz is smart, he should remove Marko from the RBR garage. They are an excellent racing team with good management. Let Marko find the talent, but leave it there. Let him mess with Toro Rosso if needs be, but leave the main F1 team alone. They know what they are doing.

  28. Being written off by Dr Marko is the best endorsement a young F1 prospect can hope for, so I expect Hartley will be a World Champion within a few years, probably for Ferrari (following in the footsteps of that other driver who Dr Marko wrote-off, Kimi Raikkonen).

  29. Red Bull have lost a huge number of fans this year through their questionable management. Horner has made a real mess of things of late, it would be a great shame if Marko is calling the shots from the shadows. Either way, Vettel’s image has taken the brunt of the hit. When will the young driver realise that his willingness to be shielded and protected by Marko is hurting his own reputation by association?

  30. As a Kiwi it certainly is a shame to see Brendon get the axe, though it would be fair to say he has not delivered the goods as consistently as he should have.

  31. Hartley has proven his speed many times he just needs a more supportive environment and he will thrive. RB have given him his wings by releasing him.

  32. Wow :s I’m scared of the comments saying that Brendon’s career is in danger. Maybe he will find another strong sponsor! Fingers crossed…

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