Red Bull announced yesterday that they have signed up with Honda for the 2019 and 2020 season, ending their 12-year association with Renault. The team came into existence in 2005 but they started their partnership with Renault in 2007.
The rise in the team’s fortunes was a proper case of hard work and determination. When they started out, Red Bull were midfield runners, finishing in fifth or sixth in the initial years.
The duo have experienced highs and lows during their time together, with the highest point being the four constructors’ titles they won during the period of 2010-2013. Other than 2010, they were completely dominant, facing no opposition whatsoever in their title run-in.
Here, we look at some of the top moments they had over the years:
#1 First Pole Position
Red Bull roped in David Coulthard when they started in 2005, with the Scot an experienced F1 campaigner, to help develop the team. It proved to be a top decision as by 2009, the team had become a very strong contender.
Coulthard retired in 2008 and so could not be there for Red Bull’s biggest achievement. The scene for the race was the Shanghai International Circuit in China. Sebastian Vettel had already had a position at the historic Monza race in 2008 and repeated the feat at China.
The two drivers, Vettel and Webber topped the practice sessions initially but could not sustain and had dropped back by the end. But on Saturday, everything changed. Vettel was experiencing problems with his drive-shaft, meaning he could not run his car for long periods.
But he did not let that affect him. To minimise the problem, the German drove only two flying laps in the last two qualifying sessions, but that was enough to secure pole position ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso.
His teammate, Mark Webber qualified third which made the deal even sweeter but more was yet to come in the actual race on Sunday.
#2 First Win
On race day, things started poorly as heavy rain meant that the race started behind the safety car for the first 8 laps. When the green flag was waved, the Brawns of Button and Barrichello made quick progress, with Button ending up taking the lead ahead of his teammate.
Red Bull responded by first bringing in Webber, who was actually behind Vettel, thus breaking the tradition of bringing in the lead car. Vettel was brought in to the pits in the next lap and both cars were flying on their new tyres.
Kubica crashed bringing out the safety car once again. This period saw the lead cars go into the pits and Red Bull had their hearts in their mouths when Vettel collided with Buemi in the sister Toro Rosso. But thankfully for them, no damage was done to the car.
When the race restarted, Vettel lead from Button and teammate Webber followed them in third place. The race went on smoothly from there on but Button ran wide at the hairpin turn which allowed Webber past him.
Webber himself would make a mistake later and let Button by but he regained the position with a stunning pass on the outside of the Brawn. Meanwhile, Vettel looked comfortable ahead and he took advantage of the chaos behind him to take the chequered flag.
Webber too remained in the second position, marking a memorable 1-2 for Red Bull and establishing their status as a top team in F1 in the coming years.
#3 First Constructors’ Title
The 2009 Chinese Grand Prix was a watershed moment for the team. It marked the start of a competitive streak for the team. Though they won as many as 6 races, with their drivers splitting the wins, the Brawn team’s superiority in the first half of the season was enough to ensure the title for them.
But their first constructors’ title in 2010 was every bit memorable as it could be. Their cars were working brilliantly and both their drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, were in contention to win the drivers’ championship.
The season was the most competitive in recent memory, with as many as five drivers in contention to win the championship in the last race at Abu Dhabi. Teams like McLaren and Ferrari had upped their development, leading to an exciting season.
Red Bull though reigned supreme at the end. Though challenged by the others, they kept up consistent performances throughout the season, finishing in the podium multiple and more often than not, at the top step.
They won 9 out 19 races and confirmed their title at the penultimate race in Brazil. Vettel and Webber finished first and second, taking their points tally to 469, a lead of 48 points over second-placed McLaren. The maximum McLaren could score was 43, which gave Red Bull the title.
In the next race, Vettel would take the victory and with it, the drivers’ title to secure their second trophy of the season. It gave them the belief to succeed and helped them dominate the sport for almost half a decade.