Hamilton and Red Bull – the logic

There are again stories kicking around about Lewis Hamilton moving from McLaren to Red Bull Racing. This would seem to be a logical step for him given that Red Bull has won the last two World Championships with Sebastian Vettel. McLaren has had some tough years as a result, but the team remains consistently competitive, even if it has not given Hamilton much chance of the title in recent seasons.

Lewis’s contract is for five years and covers the period 2008 to 2012. It ends this year. It will have paid him around $140 million by the time it finishes, which means that he is very well paid, although the question of money is not that important to him beyond being an indication of his value in F1 terms. This means that Lewis is probably earning around $40m this year, as the deal was based on an annual increase.

Red Bull is believed to have a strategy that pays a low-ish retainer, which ramps up over time, but which also rewards drivers for their victories, which means that Vettel’s 11 wins in 2011 may have allowed Sebastian to double his money to around $22 million. His current deal with Red Bull is expected to mean a salary of $13.8 million in 2013 and $16.5 million in 2014, with bonuses added on top of this.

Star drivers have in the past been known to sign for smaller salaries in order to get into winning cars, but it might be wiser for Lewis to stay where he is and hope that McLaren will give him a winning car. Hamilton may, however, also feel that it would do him good to be elsewhere as he has spent his entire career at McLaren and he may feel the need to prove himself elsewhere as well.

A move from McLaren to Red Bull Racing would suit the Formula One group, as well, as it would put Vettel up against Hamilton, which would create a better show. This works unless Red Bull has a bad year in which case two of the top drivers are struggling, which would open the way for someone else to step into the breach. While this might create a new star for the sport, it is probably wisest for Bernie Ecclestone not to put all his eggs in one basket and keep the top talent spread around the top teams.

The key player in Hamilton moving to Red Bull is, however, Red Bull itself. Red Bull would gain more exposure from such a driver line-up, but this would come at a price. It would risk disrupting the team, which sails happily along at the moment with one clear team leader. Employing two number ones is a dangerous which McLaren has seen cause trouble on several occasions, notably in 2007 when Fernando Alonso and Hamilton fell out in spectacular fashion, leading to all kinds of trouble. Thus there is an element of risk involved for Red Bull. It would also negate the value of the Red Bull Young Driver programme, which has been designed to bringing on new (cheap) talent, rather than having to buy in big names. If Vettel is winning, and a second driver can win when Sebastian cannot, what is the logic of “rocking the boat”. From Red Bull’s point of view it might be better to have Hamilton at McLaren, where Jenson Button keeps him under pressure. What is clear is that Hamilton is not going to be going to Ferrari any time soon, as long as Alonso has his feet under the desk there.

The question is really about what Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz wants out of his F1 investment. The sport has served him well in recent years (although he has paid through the nose to get that success). Red Bull has global profile which is greatly enhanced thanks to the sport. It will continue to deliver benefits in the developing markets, although it should be noted that Mateschitz does not control Red Bull in Asia, where his partners in the business run operations. For them, the best thing would be an Asian F1 star – preferably a Thai. One can see that this is on the agenda given the company’s support of youngster Alexander Albon, an Anglo-Thai who this year moves from karts, where he battled for the KF1 World Championship with Holland’s Nick de Vries (a McLaren youngster), into car racing – in Formula Renault. In a perfect world (for them) Albon will zip through Formula Renault, Formula 3 and GP2 and be ready for F1 about the time that Vettel gets to be 30 and starts to slow down. In the interim the aim seems to be to promote whichever of this year’s Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers shows best, as a replacement for Mark Webber. Jean-Eric Vergne is tipped by some as the favourite. Webber will either retire or go to Ferrari, where he would be a good team-mate for Fernando Alonso, if Felipe Massa does not shape up this year. The problem that Mateschitz has is that the law of diminishing returns means that the impact of more Vettel-Red Bull titles will lower interest (and thus brand awareness) in F1, just as Sebastien Loeb’s apparently endless domination of the World Rally Championship has hurt that sport; and Michael Schumacher’s dominant phase at Ferrari (in its heyday 10 years ago) did not help F1.

81 thoughts on “Hamilton and Red Bull – the logic

  1. I think your last comment is interesting, do you think it’s likely that Red Bull’s commitment will waiver in future seasons to come if the company has reach maximum exposure? (say if they were to win 12 & 13).

  2. Net result: there is no logic (at all) in it happening. Bad for RB, bad for Vettel, unbelievably bad for Lewis if he goes there and does anything but win the WDC (which he would, but that only imho!), bad for McLaren… etc.

    Good for ‘the fans’? There’d be hardly any impartial ones, so it would be only good for a %, and rubbish for the losing %!

    McLaren can get it done in the next year or 2 for Lewis anyway, and he can do it for himself in 2012 anyway as long as Newey doesn’t have another trick system.

  3. “Employing two number ones is a dangerous which McLaren has seen cause trouble on several occasions, notably in 2007 when Fernando Alonso and Hamilton fell out in spectacular fashion, leading to all kinds of trouble”.

    One of them must be, by definition, number two. And it would be Lewis.

  4. Joe – so IF Hamilton were to leave McLaren at the end of this season, who do you see as the possible candidates to replace him?

  5. I can see Bernie encouraging it even if it is putting too many eggs in one basket as the short term publicity would outweigh his caution.

    But would vettel be expected to slow down at 30? He might be getting experienced by then which would just be dangerous…

  6. Re Lewis, I was intrigued by an email from Tag Heuer the other day to promote their latest Formula 1 line up of watches. On closer inspection the tag line for this new range is “Time for Rebels” and there’s a picture of a moody Lewis (superimposed) with his back to Maria Sharapova. I just thought it was odd, that a sponsor is cashing in on the little bit of notoriety he’s created in the last 18/ 24 months. It also got me thinking of the number of times he’s come out with comments like “I was always in the headmasters office” or being the naughty child in school. Coincidence? From what I’ve read about his early years and heard from people who met him during his FRenault days, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Perhaps to fully develop and mature both as a driver and a person, Red Bull is the tonic he needs.

  7. It’ll be interesting to see what Lewis/ Mark / Red Bull / Mclaren decide to do. For me the element you’re missing in this story is how willing Hamilton would be to stake his skills against Vettel in equal machinery?

    It’s one thing saying ‘jeez your car is fast’ it’s quite another hopping into the same machinery and going head to head with him (lets keep in mind how well Mark Webber was thought of before SV rocked up as his team mate). When Jenson signed for Mclaren most people in the media wrote stories about how it was a massive risk for JB and how they expected him to basically be destroyed. Over the course of two seasons that’s not happened, and Lewis’s stock has fallen as people realise that there is very little between the two.

    Hamilton will be aware of this, and moving to Red Bull he’ll be in a similar situation to that of Alonso at McLaren (the team essentially backing the driver they knew over the ‘new guy’ after an argument), that makes it a double gamble, and one that if it back fired would certainly see him demoted several places in the F1 pecking order.

    Does he have Jenson Button sized balls to go ahead with it? I hope so as it’d be great to watch, but really I tend to think that it’s a risk for Red Bull and a risk for Lewis and neither party will be willing to take that much of a gamble. It’s also worth considering that both Ferrari and McLaren are pretty consistently successful, staying with them could pay dividends long term.

  8. This seems to be quite a speculative piece for you Joe.

    For all the reasons that you outline in the last 2/3 rds of the article I would think that the odds against an H move to red Bull are overwhelming to the point of ‘it ain’t happening’.

    Unless there’s something relevant that you know and you’re not telling us, or RB want ‘in’ to peripheral Hollywood and the black music scene.

    Good insight and hard data in rest of article though. Great stuff.

  9. Yes, for sure the point for Red Bull Racing is exposure, it is only in F1 as a marketing exercise. This is subtly different to Ferrari and Mclaren who also want to market their product but believe that performance on the track relates to road car “greatness” for their customers….and therefore winning gives the best return. Winning does give exposure…..but is not the only way to gain exposure. Without a doubt Alonso, Hamilton and Mclaren got more exposure in 2007 than Ferrari or Kimi!

    Therefore a Hamilton / Vettel partnership would be spectacular for RBT. This may not be what Christian is looking for, he wants to win races and championships with as little head aches as possible, but it must surely be what Dietrich is toying with…..and its his train set (well, ultimately it’s Bernie’s!)

    If there is a chance of a 2013 seat at RBT then I believe Hamilton needs to take the option if by mid-season it looks like he is not going to win the 2012 Championship!

    Great website btw Joe!!

  10. Its an interesting story Joe, and you can see why people keep bringing the subject up, and indeed why Lewis would have to be thinking about it. personally I think Red bull would be mad to go for Lewis, as you say Joe, why upset the apple cart? Put Seb and Lewis together and all that will happen is they will take points off each other, probably allowing Fernando to do what he does best and exploit any weakness in his rivals and pinch the title for himself.
    If Red Bull come up with a championship winning car then Vettel will win the title, end of story, they don’t need to risk anything.

  11. Isn’t this the age old problem, if he moves, the McLaren might be top of class, while “our Aid” may be having an off day or off sick with malaria or something.
    The reactive, hydraulic anti-dive suspension will have been banned by then and perhaps a rule re “rake” brought in, this together with proper representative wing flex tests could negate much of the current (or at least, last season’s) Red Bull superiority.

    I remember him saying he never wanted to leave McLaren because he owed them so much. But then he engaged the “bright lights and shiny” management and his focus was diverted.
    Should he go to RB, could he end up with Paul de Resta at McLaren and be fighting directly against his dad?

    Will Red Bull still be in F1? They are not universally loved in Austria for their aggressive promotional ethos.

  12. Frankly, what could Lewis Hamilton bring to Red Bull that would be worth the higher cost he’d cause?

    Personally, I see no upside to such a move, unless Sebastian Vettel is moving on from Red Bull and Lewis is hired to replace him.

    I’d argue McLaren are well aware of Lewis’ limited moving opportunities, and looking to reduce its expenditures with the eventual contract extension. If I were in their shoes, I’d take these stories as confirmation of Lewis’ predicament, and lower my offer accordingly.

  13. “While this might create a new star for the sport, it is probably wisest for Bernie Ecclestone not to put all his eggs in one basket and keep the top talent spread around the top teams.”

    Is it true Joe? Has our sport come to a state where one man decides everything including who drives where? This is one really depressing thought…

      1. Joe, on that topic, do you think Bernie “encouraged” the Bruno Senna / Williams deal, bearing in mind the numerous headlines it was bound to produce, which can only be good for generating interest in the sport?

        Come to that, what other current/recent driver-team deals do you know/think/suspect he may have had a hand in “encouraging”?

  14. I think everyone outside Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel won’t someone else to win the 2012 titles, not that I have anything against either of them (Sebastian is a very likeable guy).

    If Button beats Hamilton again this year, will Red Bull even want Lewis?

  15. Like you say Ferrari is not an option, Marko has repeatedly told he doesn’t want to disturb the peace by bringing in Hamilton, so that rules Red Bull out too.

    IMO his options will be stay at McLaren at similar terms as Jenson, Mercedes but that’s a gamble and if the car is any good for 2013 Schumacher will stay or leave the sport completely and go to NASCAR.

      1. I agree; can you imagine the Darrell Waltrip’s enthusiastic call: “and there goes Montoya, past Shumi, for twenty third spot.

  16. We can hope that Lewis’ trials of the past year will have contributed to his personal growth. I expect this will prove to be the case.

    Given the difficulty he had keeping his hand on the rudder in 2011, I also expect he still has some distance to go before he might be ready to handle the kind of situation he would find himself in with Seb as his teammate. He’s accustomed to being the both the golden boy and the boss’ favorite, neither of which would be true with Seb around.

    I have no clue whether or not Lewis sees this, but I’m sure the brass at RBR do. I cannot imagine them wanting to do the experiment.

  17. I still believe Newey will go to Ferrari at some point and that Vettel will go with him. What Joe says above confirms my view – I don’t think Alonso will mind the challenge, the contrary in fact.

      1. Thanks for the link, but I think we can take his wife’s comments with a pinch of salt! Seriously, in the end it’s still all about winning – and Montezemolo is a winner.

        1. Notably it’s Montezemolo’s potentially tongue in cheek summary of Mrs Newey’s comments, which may have been more about the general cultural gap of a move overseas.

          After all, who wants to live in a country where there’s no ready supply of Marmite, rich tea biscuits and Lea & Perrins?

  18. I think a part of Hamilton wants to get in the same car as Vettel regardless of how competitive it is just so they can go head to head in equal machinery. Hamilton believes he is the fastest driver* out there and the last two years have been many believe Vettel has taken that crown away from him.

    By going head to head against him in the same car he could finally answer that problem. I think he needs to do it, if anything to put any own doubts in his own mind to bed as well as the pundits and fans.

    He gave an interview, I think it was at Japan, where he said he asked Vettel if he wanted to meet up on the autobahns in the same model of car so they could have a race – it is clear Vettel’s success is eating at him and he wants to take the fight to him in the same car.

    However, I think it would be a mistake – Red Bull design their car around Vettel’s driving style and his methodology, and while Hamilton is one of the best drivers at being able to extract speed from any package no matter how it was designed, he wouldn’t be able to compete against Vettel in was was essential his tailored, bespoke RB9 suit.

    (* note, by fastest I don’t mean ‘best’, I am just talking about raw speed)

    1. I agree. Red bull basically explained they built the car to qualify at the front, build a gap and then control the race. This suits vettels exacting, methodical approach. Lewis always struck me as more instinctive and ‘racey’. I think he’d actually find the RBR less suitable for his style. Lewis may be unhappy that mclaren is trying to fit both him and jenson with totally different styles but given jensons upturn in overtaking last year, maybe the mclaren will start to suit Hamilton more?

      I know red bull are the class of the field but I think it’s got to be the car suiting the driver. There’s rarely just one car that everyone would win in (in recent years anyway).

  19. Joe, that’s an interesting point at the end of the article on diminishing returns for RB if Vettel continues to dominate. I think of it as not just a problem for Mateschitz, but for F1 in general.

    I, for one, lost interest in F1 after a few years of Ferrari domination. However, now I’m a bigger fan of F1 than I was back then, and don’t know if such dominance by RB would put me off again but I imagine this *would* (and probably does) put off the causal Sunday afternoon F1 fan. If another season of Vettel winning every race come to pass, will the casual viewers switch off in droves? (in the UK at least)

    The question is, just as the BBC/Sky deal may hurt viewer numbers badly this year, what does F1 (/Bernie) do about another year that may bring big wins for RB, but leave viewers cold?

    1. I used to watch WRC a lot more than F1, especially during the Schumacher years. Turning on the TV at start time, seeing the red cars roar off and turn it back on again about 1.5 hrs later and see them 1-2 the race was pretty much it.

      I sincerely hope that this year’s championship is not so clear cut as last year for sure.

  20. If Dietrich Mateschitz sought the services of a certain Joe Saward to choose his driver line-up who would the drivers say? Surely a Hamilton-Vettel combination would be absolute box office, disruptions aside, it would make Red Bull more money

    1. Maybe, but if you remember correctly the 2007 World Championship did not got to either of the warring McLaren drivers, but rather to Kimi Raikkonen. And, if you know F1 history, you will know that the warring Nigel Mansell-Nelson Piquet duo at Williams in 1996, handed Alain Prost the World Championship…

      1. 1986 was due to Mansell’s tire blowout. Does anyone think he would not have won the title without it? Not that I disagree in general with your point although Senna/Prost won the title for McLaren with all of their bickering.

      2. And if I recall, co-number-ones (though not warring ones) taking points off each other at Lotus in 1973 did no harm to Jackie Stewart’s title bid.

        1. Actually, that’s got me thinking:

          In both cases (Piquet & Mansell at Williams in ’86; and Alonso & Hamilton at McLaren in ’07) they WEREN’T employed as joint number one drivers, at least when the seasons began. In ’86, Piquet was a double world champion whilst Mansell had only just bagged his first couple of wins. In ’07, Alonso was a double, and reigning, world champion whilst Hamilton was a rookie.

          In both cases, the problems didn’t arise from a policy of employing joint number one drivers – the problems arose from the originally intended number two drivers doing rather better than expected compared to their more illustrious supposed team leader.

  21. “Employing two number ones is a dangerous which McLaren has seen cause trouble on several occasions, notably in 2007 when Fernando Alonso and Hamilton fell out in spectacular fashion, leading to all kinds of trouble.”

    With all due respect, Alonso and Hamilton did not “fall out in spectacular fashion”, Alonso got badly rattled by being beaten by Lewis in his first ever races, so tried to keep stolen information to himself, publicly blackmailed the Team with his preposterous six tenths of a second, tried to sabotage Lewis Quali in Hungary by slowing him up into the jaws of Kimi, then provoking possibly the only retaliation by Lewis all year, failing to give his place back to Alonso, as he saw the danger.

    So scared of a superior teammate in an equal car, he went off to hide in a midfield Renault where he deliberately cheated a “win” with crashgate, thereby robbing his current teammate of a WDC.

    Look at how Lewis has handled Jenson, zero problems, it was never him at fault, just a spoilt little git who does not want a competitive teammate as it might just show up his not being the greatest driver out there lie.

    1. Wow, what a one sided convenient memory you have. I didn’t realize Saint Lewis was a martyr all these years.

      I blame Ron for bringing a 2 time WDC into his team and NEVER giving him the implied support he earned and deserved, over a ROOKIE whelp who thought his shite didn’t stink. His so called “equal treatment” resulted in exactly that, two drivers tied for second place. BRILLIANT strategy Ron!

  22. Call me old fashioned if you like but Lewis Hamilton owes McLaren far more than he has given them. He has immense amounts of talent, no doubt about it. But he didn’t beat his team mate in a McLaren last year so would he be able to beat Vettel in ‘his’ Red Bull – I’m not convinced.

    All the excuses can be made about family & relationship issues but this self indulgent teenage angst is frankly a bit ridiculous when the guy is 27 years old. Would you want this whole heap of problems arriving in to your cosy & very successful winning team? When you already have a driver who gets everything from the car and makes it stick? I wouldn’t!

    He’s a man that has everything yet he mopes around the place like some sick puppy thats just had it’s tail caught in a door. It irks me greatly.

    McLaren have given him everything because he had the determination and motivation to fight for it and it’s that motivation he seems to have lost, to me anyway. I very much doubt Red Bull will come knocking without it.

  23. Hamilton should not go anywhere near RBR unless its for a No1 driver contract. Seems to me that the only benefit to RBR is to have Vettel “beat” Hamilton in “equal” machinery, thus proving their driver program. We’ve seen enough funny business at RBR to conclude that they only care for one driver. (Which is fair enough, but not a situation Hamilton would want to deal with)

    In short, if I were Hamilton, I’d be deeply sceptical. Besides, dominance is cyclical. RBR will eventually slide, and McLaren and Ferrari will have their turn. If one is in a team like those 3, moving is a gamble.

  24. I find your comment about Vergne being rumoured to be most likely to replace Webber.

    Worth watching how Horner speaks about the pair of them rather than what he says about them. For example mentioning one driver before the other on a regular basis indicates something about how he thinks about them even if he doesn’t mean to reveal that information.

    I have it in my head that he’s mentioned Vergne first in the last two quotes I’ve seen, but I could be mistaken.

  25. This story has got me wondering whether Red Bull are wasting money on the young driver programme. They must be spending tens and tens of millions on Toro Rosso and a fair few quid on various drivers in the junior formulas. Presumably it would be cheaper to shell out a blockbuster salary for an established top driver like Hamilton, be it 20 or 30 million a yr, or whatever crazy figure is agreed? They could sell Toro Rosso and pump even more money into the main team? Then again, I guess Red Bull can afford 2 teams…..

  26. Going back to the reported (as modified by Joe) comments that Alonso made about Hamilton I don’t have the sort of information and expertise that Joe does – but to me Lewis on raw pace and putting the car on its ear so to speak – seems to me the fastest of all the current drivers – and it seems to be the tyre issue(shared with Mark Webber) – and also his head that has been his problem lately.

    perhaps he will go to Mercedes for megabucks and put the cat among the pigeons there if they can get the car sorted out

  27. An interesting situation! Ferrari is out of the equation. Red Bull has the Newey lure, but F1 is a fickle mistress and team domination rarely lasts.

    The idealist in me says that Lewis should stick by the team that had supported him. Mclaren will come good at some point, they haven’t been far off the pace the last few years, and red bull won’t be on top forever.

    Picking the right drive is alot like poker, gotta know when to hold em and when to fold em!

  28. Lewis to Red Bull would be as wrong as it was wrong for McLaren to put him in the best F1 car as a rookie in 2007. Where did this entitlement for Lewis start and where will it end. If Lotus is the team to be in 2 years will Bernie engineer a move for Lewis there as well ? McLaren is telling us all the time Jenson and Lewis is Formula One´s perfect driver line up, if they truly believe it by all means they should cling on to them and i doubt Red Bull or Ferrari want any part of Lewis anyway.
    If i were Matheschitz or Montezemolo i would be quite happy with the situation at McLaren, where Lewis and Jenson seemingly neutralise each other year after year.

  29. I’ll admit, the first time I read someone suggest that LH move to the big F I almost choked on my breakfast I laughed so hard (that’ll learn me to enjoy toast while reading F1 news). I’ll never fully understand what motivated these guys, but I’d guess any rumors about LH doing anything but staying where he’s at are designed to grab page views and maybe put some pressure on one or two other drivers.

    @ MattD – the public love their rebels, and Tag certainly has a certain…slice of the market wherein people who think of themselves as rebels reside. Ego visible from space and obvious flashed wealth, etc. Those marketing people are earning their keep (and it was a pretty decent ad).

  30. I think if McLaren produce another car that is off the pace of Red Bull, Lewis will be away. I have my suspicions about the abilities of Martin Whitmarsh. Since he’s been in charge McLaren have only won 13 races in three years. In the two years Hamilton was there when Denis was there they won 14 races.

    I think I can predict right now that McLaren will have the third fastest car on the grid, at best. Even in 2011, the drivers out performed the car.

    Hamilton, with Alonso and Vettel, is part of a trio of super drivers. He may even be the best on the grid. If Alonso or Vettel become a triple world champion this year it will be extremely unfair to Hamilton, who is not even a double champion.

    The only thing he needs to do is get out of McLaren. Hamilton will never win a championship again in a McLaren.

    2012 will be another lost year, but thankfully it will be his last.

  31. The chance of Hamilton to join Seb at RedBull is ZERO.
    As Joe pointed out RB runs Torro Rosso only as farm-team for young drivers.
    So his team mate for 2013 is easy to see.It will be the driver who manage to
    put a Torro Rosso on the podium.first and manage to end 2012 in front of his
    team mate.Sebastien Buemi will be used to find out how strong Mark,Daniel,
    Jean-Eric and Jaime (hopefully at HRT ) and if Buemi is close to Mark it might
    be him to join Seb and Daniel and Jean-Eric are not getting better results for
    TR compared to 2011.

  32. Yeah, excellent. Except you seem to have missed the fact that Jenson Button has outshone Mr Bighead this past season, and came second in the Championship. Why does everyone keep on about Lewis ? He ISN’T the absolute best, or he wouldn’t keep shooting himself in the foot. He only won his championship because Glock let him by, otherwise we would have had Massa as Champion. Perhaps there was a backhander in there, in order to have the first “black” F1 World Champion, and all of the follow-on publicity and headline grabbing aimed at the black communities worldwide. Stranger things have been made to happen ………..

    1. I don’t think Lewis is big-headed at all, and I don’t really understand how you have reached that conclusion.

    2. I’m no die hard Lewis fan but I do have respect for his un doubted and proven talents,and I never let the old “Glock let him by” conspiracy theory get mentioned without pointing out that it is total nonsense!
      Glock stayed out on the wrong tyres in a desperate attempt to take the position away from Lewis, thats his job. It may have looked to someone who doesn’t know much about F1, as though Timo let him by, but the truth is he was in a much slower car on worn slicks in the rain, Glock was totally defenceless. As for the backhander, why? How? Neither glock or Toyota would give up a position for a few quid, and how would it all be arranged? Over the radio in the middle of a wet race?! Your dreaming!

  33. I can’t help that think that the vast majority of the talk around this comes from wishful Lewis Hamilton fan’s. It is probably in Lewis’s best interests to concentrate on at least besting Jenson in the same machinery this year and then any offers will come from there. That said he could win the WDC this year in the Mclaren and I still think he’d be at best an outside chance of getting a drive at Red Bull.

  34. I like your thought of Webber moving to Ferrari. Maybe he’d finally get the respect he deserves. Also if Vettel dominates in 2012, it is going to be really boring.

  35. “The key player in Hamilton moving to Red Bull is, however, Red Bull itself. Red Bull would gain more exposure from such a driver line-up, but this would come at a price. It would risk disrupting the team, which sails happily along at the moment with one clear team leader”

    Very true.

    Also true that, as you say, if Red Bull is just an expensive branding exercise then diminishing returns will kick in if they just keep sailing along as they do.

    It seems eminently possible, if far from guaranteed, that 2012 could just be an extension of 2011 – Vettel out well in front of the chasing pack and RBR easily totting up another WDC/WCC double. There’s only so many years in a row when that happens that everyone’ll still get excited about it, after that it’s just a weakening advert.

    So either you keep hoping the opposition will get better than you, which would be an odd thing for a team to want, or you deliberately lose a season or two to make the battle with your contenders look all the more epic, which would be silly, or you try to engineer a modern Prost-Senna epic inter-team battle and win everything like that before the probable implosion, at which point you go back to the original clear number 1 philosophy.

    Sounds a bit silly I guess but maybe better than the alternative.

  36. I’m thinking that Newey is the key player in all of this. If he stays at Red Bull then all is good, if he leaves then maybe not. (My hopes are that Newey goes to Williams with an equity stake.)

  37. Interesting to say the least. I think Seb and Jenson have a bit of Ferrari lust if I recall correctly. And is it not a dream for Lewis to be a part of McLaren?

    I am sure if he is shoved into a #2 seat too many times it would get supremely irritating for him… and change is inevitable. But I don’t see him running away from McLaren yet.

    I think an even more interesting question would be: “How long does Red Bull intend to keep Seb, and how long does Seb want to race for RBR.” The likely answer being “As long as he is winning”. I think it would be incredibly stupid to break up a good thing.

    Massa will be out soon unless he pulls some major hat trick… and who would Ferrari pick to pit Alonso against? I would guess it would be Seb or Jenson. Would Ferrari consider Webber? Would Webber go to McLaren if Button went to Ferrari? Or just drop off the grid completely?

    Just senseless rambling on my part, I suppose.

    I think 2013 is going to be quite a season… but It will be interesting to see what the six WC’s do on the grid this year.

  38. I think the early point about what Dietrich Mateschitz wants out of his investment is the most poignant issue. Yes, teams are slowly catching Red Bull and the revised sporting regs in 2013 may level off the front-running teams a bit more. If Vettel continues to have the best chassis and continues to dominate (as the lead driver on RBR), he might notch a few more WDCs. HOWEVER, Red Bull is not a works team and the law of diminishing returns is already at work. Red Bull has peaked or is at peak. How much bigger of a boost in energy drink sales will repeat championships bring in Europe and the Americas? Not much. Mateschitz is already tens of millions in the hole when RBR was not competitive for many years. I’m sure Newey isn’t cheap, either. Joe has a point about the Asian market and stoking that driver talent, but that seems many years in the making. If Formula 1 becomes less relevant to Mateschitz and he sells to a works team coming back into the picture (Toyota, Honda, anyone), then things will get interesting.

  39. I must say Joe; you have now got the little grey cells working over time. I can see where you’re coming with this concept. My relatives in the States, really don’t know much about F1, but guess what, they do know all about Lewis Hamilton, due to his girlfriend, and from that, worked out he was a F1 driver and former champion. Red Bull on the other hand hasn’t really got the traction they had hoped for, and broken the American market. (The world’s biggest consumer market so far)
    One does wonder, after winning the championship for say a third time, what more can Red Bull hope to achieve with this sort of marketing spending. There product sells extremely well in Europe, and as we have seen F1 works well here. They don’t have any spin off in engineering terms to a road car or sell on their engineering knowledge, like say Williams’ are trying to do. So somewhere down the line, and many millions later, will the time & energy be worth the investment, or should Red Bull look at other marketing outlets for their marketing spend.

    In a perfect world, you are right they need a driver from the Far East, who can help build the Brand there, and into China. But then again India is also a good market for their product, and the same with South America.
    If you look at the other sugar caffeine drinks, they don’t spend anywhere near what Red Bull does in its motor racing program, and they seem to be able to penetrate foreign markets with out to much trouble.
    So if Red Bull is again the main dominate force, like in the last 2 years, with a single driver, will viewers turn off F1? I think the viewing figures drop during the Ferrari run, as everyone though it was a foregone conclusion as to who would win. That would then hurt the Red Bull brand, but if you have two drivers, fighting each other in the “car” to be in, then viewing figures would increase. I guess you also have to add into this mix who would be Lewis Hamilton’s girlfriend and how many Colum inches she pulls in herself for that country to keep him and red bull in the press / media.

  40. What fascinates me in all of this is Alonso’s willingness to let us know what a talented driver Hamilton is . Have heard it now on a noticeable number of occasions …
    Hamilton to Ferrari ?
    I certainly wouldn’t bet against it !
    It seems that Ferrari are assembling an all-conquering army again .
    Now , wouldn’t that be news eh ?

  41. I guess the previous poster doesn’t like Alonso then,or holds Hamilton in such high esteem he can do no wrong………hmmm…knowing the facts is one thing,purporting to think you do conjurs up delusion,which i’m sure you’re not…………..

  42. You forget that it Lewis who baulked Alonso in qualifying in Hungary, not the other way around. Hamilton blocked Alonso in qualifying and was next told to let him pit first. Which led Lewis to swear at Ron McLaren over team radio. Way to stay classy, Lewis.

    Lewis’ conduct has hardly been exemplary. You accuse Alonso of causing the crash in Singapore although the FIA said he was not the cause of the crash and it banned both Briatore and Symonds. Moreover, I’m not sure how Massa not winning one race is the “cause” of losing the title.

    Lewis has been accused of lying to the stewards, ramming into the back of Kimi’s car in the pit lane, arrested for doing donuts in a car park in Australia, firing his own father, binning it in a gravel trap in China, accusing Red Bull of running an illegal wing (when the FIA declared its legality), and describing the two-time constructors’ champion as “just a drinks company”.

  43. I would absolutely be gutted if Hamilton leaves McLaren. I am a McLaren since 1988, I supported every driver than ran for the team, well except for Andretti who did only one good thing in F1 and that is to make the seat available to Hakkinen. 🙂

    The way Hamilton behave and reffered to McLaren in the past months seem to suggest that he wants to move or needs something to change. I don’t see him at Ferrari, logic would suggest Red Bull or Mercedes. The only ones who know the truth are McLaren, Hamilton and perhaps a third party (team). We can only speculate, let’s just wait and see.

    If Hamilton leaves who might come in his place? Will McLaren go for some young driver? Will they bring an experienced driver? Honestly I hope for Paul di Resta, I followed him since his debut in DTM, very apt race driver. It would be fun to have Kobayashi in a McLaren 😀

  44. I wonder how many of the people posting here have ‘off days’ ?

    Days when nothing works out, the job you are working at on the bench won’t go together right, you cross-thread some bolt in a critical assembly and so on?

    We all have them, so why do we expect F1 drivers NOT to have them?

    One refreshing thing about the current clutch of drivers is that they are quite human and show human failures/failities.

    I can’t see anything in their activities or on-track performances other than a bunch of brilliant drivers making human mistakes every now and then.


  45. I think from a driver’s perspective the goal posts were shifted by Schumacher. If you have aspirations of being “the best ever” (potentials included on this list are Hamilton, Alonso, and Vettel out of the current generation), then you can no longer just win titles. It is also about building a team around you and leading the rejuvination of a team. I guess in their minds they don’t want to be classified as just having been in the best car at the time. Alonso has accepted this challenge with Ferrari. Perhaps Hamilton or Vettel could see themselves jumping ship at a later stage in their careers. However, for the time being I believe they will stay put. I also don’t believe the team managers see a need to recruit additional talent. On the right day, they each have drivers (even 2nd drivers) who can win. It is more up to the 2nd tier teams (eg Lotus, Mercedes, FI) that need to pull off a key driver signing in order to raise themselves up the ladder. Hence why I think we could see these teams pull off an upset signing (like Kimi).

  46. “Steve”

    “I can’t help that think that the vast majority of the talk around this comes from wishful Lewis Hamilton fans.”

  47. Dear ALL

    Peter A Forbes- I well said- it doesn’t matter how many zillion you pay a driver, he remains human, and, fallible. And, as Sir JYS stated- Lewis needs to get his mind management in order. He has been all over the place like a mad woman’s s*#t in 2011.

    From a Red Bull Racing angle-
    – why hire someone who, in 2011 at least, had quite a few prangs, some of an amateurish nature, and belt him in to a car which is identical to Seb;s??? That is begging for trouble, surely.
    – and, in doing so, potentially destabilise Seb?? And, thus, impede Seb’s rise and rise, (Is anyone prepared to state that Seb has reached 100% of his potential)
    – as well as risk one taking wins from the other.
    – It is pretty obvious that Seb has not become complacent, and, in need of a REAL kick up the bum.

    It seems that Lwis; asking price would be like burning money to achieve no nore than a quick and talented no 2 could achieve.

    From the Lewis end-
    – yes, he would have equal machinery, even joint no 1 status, But, he wouldn’t get equal “love” from the team (Just As Alobso din’t at McLaren.
    – then there’s the “ole one eye” factor- Marko has immense power within the organization- and, Seb is his golden haired boy- witness the blame shifting when Seb and Mark had that prang in 2010 (at Istanbuk, I think.) Marko wields a heap of power withinRBR= his role is illm defined, at least publically- perhaps more than Christian. (Joe, what are your thoughts on Marko c.f. Horner, in terms of their respective roles, and power)

    Of course, if young Seb has already signed a contract with another team, to commence when his current RBR deal expires,, signing Lewis makes perfect sense.

  48. Funny you should mention Red Bull and Sebastien Loeb in the same article. Red Bull have been plastered all over his Citroens for years now…

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