Red Bull Racing is well known for its competitive cars made by Adrian Newey their world titles by Sebastian Vettel and of course these days with Max Verstappen. After 15 years Red Bull Racing is still a joyful and young refreshing team. Though did you know that Red Bull’s first attempt to enter the Formula one as team stranded in the summer of 2002?
The energy drink company Red Bull arrived in the Formula One as sponsor in 1995. At that time Red Bull was far from the massive company that it is now. Instead they were a young and a bit rebellious new company which saw the Formula One as the perfect way to promote their energy drink. From 1995 on Red Bull was one of Saubers biggest sponsors for year. Though due the intensive involvement of Petronas the company reduced the involvement with Sauber. 2004 was the last season they sponsored Sauber.
Rumours appeared already in late 1999 that Dietrich Mateschitz was interested to continue their Formula One journey by setting up their own Formula One team. Was it an option to buy out Peter Sauber? Not an option if you ask me. Peter Sauber has always been one of those Team owners like Eddie Jordan who share a pure passion for Formula One. Though it was rumoured that Red Bull was looking to acquire the Swiss Sauber team.
In 2000 another short lived story appeared on the paddock stating that Red Bull was looking into buying the major shares of an Formula one team. There were not much details shared about the plans. It could be it was the plan to look further in a team like Arrows or Minardi. Though nothing much can be found.
In 2001 Enrique Bernoldi, who came from the Red Bull young driver development program, became one of the drivers for the Orange Arrows team. And made his Formula one debut with the team. It meant that Red Bull was to sponsor the Arrows team as well. Around this time Dietrich Mateschitz and Peter Sauber were not the best friends. Dietrich was to sell his shares in the Sauber team around 48million dollar. The shares he had within the Sauber team would be sold soon. In October, despite the bad season for the Arrows team, Red Bull announced to continue the sponsoring of the Arrows team in 2002 on top of it intensify the relationship via sister company TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing). By become a major sponsor of the TWR affiliated Indy Racing League operation, Team Cheever.
Why would Mateschitz do this? It was well known that he would like to step foot at wall in America. His idea was to debut on the grid with the Red Bull All American F1 team. There is no better way to promote your company than via the Formula One. Around the same time Bernie Ecclestone was luring to the Americans to make the Formula One then big as well.
In 2002 Both the Arrows A23 and the Sauber 21 had the Red Bull logo’s on the exact same position on the air duct. While Red Bull expands their interest in the Arrows team, it became clear that Tom Walkinshaw was struggling to keep his Arrows team on the grid their financial position was horrible and near bankruptcy. Walkinshaw was in speaking terms with several investors had been said. It is still unclear why the serious attempt by Red Bull never came to a deal. Dietrich Mateschitz was one of the few who really throw a life line.
On the 15th of July 2002 several media outlets reported about the deal between Red Bull and Arrows near. It meant that Red Bull was ready to take the major share in the Arrows team. The energy drink company would be the new title sponsor, and there were even talks about a future name change from Arrows to Red Bull Team USA. There were only a few roadblock to take one of them was the Morgan Grenfell bank. Grenfell wanted 30 million dollar from whoever was to buy the team. It was the debt the team had. As well Cosworth still had to receive the 4 million dollar on unpaid wages for their engines. As well the outstanding salaries ha to be paid first.
Though it is unsure from this point why the takeover never happened. It is said that Tom Walkinshaw eventually asked too much money to acquire the Arrows team from him. There were multiple groups interested in the team to keep it in the Formula one, there is been said that in all cases Walkinshaw was asking too much money for the team.
In 2003 Dietrich Mateschitz was flirting with Eddie Jordan to buy his team. In 2003 the financial situation for the Jordan Grand Prix team was only a bit better than Minardi’s financial situation. Because of Ralph Firman Jordan kept their title sponsor Benson & Hedges. If Firman was not announced as one of their drivers and instead Felipe Massa was chosen as their driver Red Bull probably acquired the Jordan Grand Prix team.
Eventually Red Bull Racing would make its debut in 2005. In 2004 it was known that they purchased the Jaguar Racing team which spend a lot of money for only a few points in the four years they were on the grid. Although it was not the All American team as planned previously. As in 2020 Red Bull is probably worldwide leader in energy drinks. Or is Rich Energy?