Red Bull train sights on second title
Red Bull clinched their first Formula 1 constructors' title at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday and experts have been marvelling at just how an energy drinks company came to topple the racing powerhouses of Ferrari and McLaren six short seasons after buying the ailing Jaguar team.
Driver turned BBC pundit David Coulthard, who raced for Red Bull from their debut season in 2005 until 2008, believes the success of any F1 team is built first on the strength of its technical department.
"Bringing in designer Adrian Newey was the first piece of the jigsaw puzzle of putting together a successful team," Coulthard explained.
"The technical chief is the king of the castle and Adrian had already won more grands prix than Michael Schumacher."
Coulthard was influential in persuading Newey, who had masterminded six championship-winning cars for Williams initially and then for McLaren, to join Red Bull in time to design the 2007 car.
Team principal Christian Horner says the next step was to create the "right environment" in which Newey, who had become disillusioned at McLaren, could work.
The English designer needed a nimble operation that allowed him to spend more time at the drawing board - the only literal drawing board you are likely to find in F1, where computers are king - and which was capable of responding quickly to his 'eureka' moments.
Relations between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have been strained this season. Photo: Getty
"Adrian is like the conductor of an orchestra and he has to have the relevant players so we had to make some key appointments early on," Horner told BBC Sport.
"Guys like our head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou, who was also at McLaren, Rob Marshall who joined us as chief designer from Renault and Paul Monaghan and Ian Morgan on the engineering side.
"Unlike Williams and McLaren, who already had [established] structures which Adrian just fed into, with Red Bull he started with a clean sheet of paper."
After two seasons spent moulding the team's technical department, Red Bull came alive on the track in 2009.
Sebastian Vettel scored the team's first win in China ahead of team-mate Mark Webber. It was to be the first of six victories in Red Bull's breakthrough season.
When I asked Horner to put a percentage on how important Newey - who Mercedes boss Ross Brawn ruefully described in Brazil as his nemesis - was to Red Bull's success, he said it would not be fair to do so.
But most F1 insiders believe Newey's design genius is Red Bull's main weapon.
Red Bull also helped their 2010 championship charge by retaining both stability and momentum in the team.
While rivals Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes bedded in new drivers, Red Bull stuck with Webber and Vettel.
Between them they have captured pole position 14 times and won eight races for Red Bull on their way to the constructors' crown.
"Mark and Sebastian are both vitally important because they had to deliver their part on the track," Horner added.
"They are different personalities and characters but they share a common determination and drive, which is winning.
"Mark and Sebastian are not superstars in the factory, they are two drivers and they show great camaraderie with their team.
"Mark lives near the Milton Keynes factory and so you often find him out riding his mountain bike with members of the team up in the hills.
"I vividly remember Sebastian's first visit to Red Bull when he was 17. He had only just got his driving licence and so he drove over to the factory just because he could. He turned up in reception and said, 'Hi, I'm Sebastian Vettel.'
Adrian Newey gets front and centre in Red Bull's Brazilian celebrations Photo: Reuters
"Sebastian injects a lot of enthusiasm because of his infectious personality and sense of humour."
The relationship between Red Bull's two drivers has, at times, threatened to undermine the team's title ambitions and Horner has played a crucial role in defusing a powder-keg of internal team tensions.
First, Horner had to smooth over relations after Vettel took Webber out when trying to pass him for the lead at the Turkish Grand Prix.
At Silverstone accusations of favouritism towards Vettel blew up after a new version of the front wing was taken off Webber's car and bolted on to Vettel's.
In Brazil the pride in winning the constructors' title came only three days after Webber had cast a shadow over the team by publicly claiming they were not supporting him emotionally.
Though reluctant to talk about his own role, Horner said: "Inevitably when you have two fiercely competitive animals, who are both competing for the same target, there will be times when tensions bubble over.
"Yes, we've had blips this year where tensions have run high between the drivers but we've always recovered from those very quickly - and that's about not being afraid to deal with issues head on and being as transparent and open and straightforward with the drivers as possible.
"Red Bull are probably the least political team in the pit-lane. It is all about racing, it is all about the sport."
What Red Bull are not, however, is a privateer racing team such as Williams, or a manufacturer team like Mercedes or the Fiat-owned Ferrari.
They are a marketing arm for Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz's energy drink company and that brings no guarantees that Red Bull Racing are in F1 to stay.
The team are understood to run on a similar budget to McLaren - around 200m euros - with Ferrari's coffers stacked a little higher.
But Horner sees no reason for Mateschitz to cut off the F1 team saying: "There has never been any timeframe on Red Bull's commitment.
"They have been in F1 for the last 15 years as a sponsor, a shareholder [in Sauber] and now as a team owner, so they are as committed, if not more so, as any other team in F1.
"Dietrich always had a clear vision for Red Bull to run at the front and to become a winning race team. It been a lot of hard work but I'm very proud of what's been achieved."
Red Bull are famous for throwing parties but the celebrations will not have lasted long in Sao Paulo as there is still one more prize to be won.
Red Bull go two-handed to Abu Dhabi where the desert will decide if Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Webber, Vettel or McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will be crowned champion.
"It's nice to get the constructors' championship out of the way," smiled Horner among the confetti strewn outside Red Bull's garage.
"Now we can focus on the drivers."