Is Red Bull Racing the new Benetton is perhaps an misleading title, as Benetton operated in an era were many technological advantages were made, were sometimes more than 20 teams tried to attempt for an Grand Prix, and when Formula one cars were still beautiful. No I refer to is the amount off driver switches the team made last few years in mid-season.
Perhaps the title should be “Red Bull the champion of mid-season driver switches” included as well in this article are the switches with Toro Rosso, as Toro Rosso is a team on its own it basically is Red Bull Racing as well. Today’s race made my mind clear that Red Bull changes a lot of its drivers or “shuffles” its drivers.
Why Benetton popped up in my mind? Probably because Benetton in 1994 changed a lot with their drivers and several were rumoured to take the second seat next to Michael Schumacher. JJ Lehto, Jos Verstappen and Johnny Herbert took the seat next to Schumacher during the season. As well in 1989 and 1991 when Moreno had to leave in favour of Michael Schumacher. And if I remember it well when Benetton Became Renault. In 2004, Jarno Trulli was replaced in favour of Villeneuve and in 2011 Heidfeld in favour of Bruno Senna.
On purpose I don’t mentioned the 2009 move with Piquet Junior and Romain Grosjean. As due the crash gate at Singapore in 2008 which basically costed him his seat in the team in 2009. Too much pressure, to show good performance on the track. We all know how the crash gate ended.
Back to Red Bull Racing. Red Bull Racing is well known for it’s harshness of the management towards drivers. In 2005 the team made it’s debut in the Formula One after purchasing the Jaguar team earlier in 2004. In 2005 David Coulthard was their first driver, the second driver was an shared seat between Christian Klien and Vitantonio Luizzi . In 2006 David Coulthard and Klien were the driver for the Red Bull Racing team as well. However, Klien would be replaced for the last three races by Dutch driver Robert Doornbos, who didn’t do a better job at all.
For years the team kept the same drivers, however in 2016 things changed. When Max Verstappen arrived for his second season with Toro Rosso. He made such an impression on the Management that he would replace Daniil Kvyat after only four races held during the season. This season the same happened at Red Bull Racing with Pierre Gasly who got replaced by the better performing Alexander Albon, who showed this race at Spa what his qualities are. Looking at it, Red Bull Racing seems more stable then I thought. However, let’s have a quick look at Red Bull Racing’s sister team Toro Rosso.
Toro Rosso appeared in 2006 on the grid, when Red Bull bought the Minardi team from Paul Stoddart in 2005. Toro Rosso was born, it would be the talent pool for Red Bull Racing. The first year the Toro Rosso’s were a bit in advantage as they were allowed to use the Cosworth V10 engine, restricted, while most of the others used the new V8 engines.
In 2007 Toro Rosso had their first mid-season driver change. Due poor performance Scott Speed had to leave the team in favour of some young German named Sebastian Vettel. A year later Vettel would win the Grand Prix of Italy. In 2009 Toro Rosso started the season with Sebastien Bourdais and Sébastien Buemi. Bourdais ‘s performance were poor and after several races Bourdais would be replaced by the Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari. Both would drive two season for the team, before they were ditched due poor performance on the track.
In 2016 Russian Daniil Kvyat drove the first four races for the Red Bull Team, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Junior were each other’s teammates at Toro Rosso in 2016 and previously in 2015 showing off some good results together. Kvyat, as mentioned here above, was replaced by Max Verstappen after just four races. Better said they got shuffled. As Verstappen would go to Red Bull Racing and Daniil Kvyat to Toro Rosso. Ironically enough after 2017 Daniil Kvyat had to leave Toro Rosso as well. Only to make his comeback this season with Toro Rosso, showing some impressive results.
2017 was the Benetton season for Toro Rosso. Kvyat, Sainz, Gasly and Hartley drove for Toro Rosso that year without having any of them completing the full season for the team. This year, so far, Toro Rosso saw again an driver shuffled. Alexander Albon’s first race for the Red Bull Racing team happened today at Spa with a good result. While Pierre Gasly drove the Toro Rosso with, we have to say, some good performance on the track as well.
I know what you are saying or thinking, dive into the talent pool of Red Bull Racing, to find out how many “Talents” they kicked out and even brought back, Brendon Hartley as good example. Perhaps that will be another article in the future.