A champagne moment made in Milton Keynes
Monday 20 April 2009
The first genuine victory for the Red Bull energy drink brand has been a long time coming, notwithstanding the Chinese GP winner Sebastian Vettel's maiden victory for partner team Toro Rosso at Monza last year.
The entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz bought out the Jaguar Racing team in 2005, but for so long the design genius of Adrian Newey, once the architect of success at Williams and McLaren, was stymied by problems with reliability. In the hands of drivers such as David Coulthard and Mark Webber, the cars would flatter occasionally, but more often would fail to finish. The team's flamboyant off-track activities attracted greater attention.
Last year, the arrival of the former Williams and BAR-Honda technical director Geoff Willis was instrumental in improving the reliability and helping Red Bull Racing to become a serious contender. But even this weekend there were dramas in practice and qualifying, as both Vettel and Webber suffered problems with their drive-shafts.
The one-two victory yesterday thus owed as much to the engineers back at the factory in Milton Keynes as it did to the race team in China.
"You have no idea what the guys went through last night," Webber said. "The cars were breaking their drive-shafts after just three laps in practice. They did some work at the factory last night to understand this particular problem and they made a change that turned out to be an inspired one, something one of the guys in our technical department had done. So it was a great, great day for the team, not just here but in Milton Keynes, but also in Austria, where Red Bull is based. This means a huge amount. Our team have been through a lot and results have slipped through our fingers.
"Today Sebastian and I pushed each other quite hard throughout the race in tough conditions, and they were getting interesting as it rained again towards the end. It's just extremely rewarding to get this result, the best result of my career, and I hope to go one step better in the future and this is another step towards that. But for Dietrich to get his first one-two, that is just so great for him."
The success was timely. At Mateschitz's behest, the team principal, Christian Horner, put Red Bull through tough restructuring during the winter months in a quest to cut costs. The budget was cut dramatically and that meant around 20 jobs were axed, mainly from the testing department, bringing the overall personnel tally down to 500, compared to Brawn's 450.
The team also moved over to in-house production of more parts in an effort to bring down costs and because the need for new equipment throughout the season had reduced via the cost-cutting measures that were voted through in December.
While Mateschitz celebrated Toro Rosso's maiden win last year, it was undoubtedly an embarrassment to his main team which acted as a spur, especially as Mateschitz was growing impatient to see some more meaningful return on the huge investment he has made in Formula One.
On top of all of that, it was becoming past time Newey and his team produced hard results to prove they really were the miracle workers Mateschitz believed them to be. Yesterday's result went a very long way towards doing just that, especially as Ferrari yet again left a track empty-handed.
The Bull meister: Dietrich Mateschitz
The 64-year-old billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz was born in Styria, Austria. He founded Red Bull in 1987 and holds a 49% share of the $2.5bn energy drinks giant.
After graduating from university in Vienna, Mateschitz worked for cosmetics manufacturers Proctor and Gamble. He was in Thailand investigating new formulas where he first discovered the stimulant drink that would become Red Bull. It was initially designed to combat jet lag.
He is famed for using the brand in the name of every sporting team he owns and has made the drink synonymous with extreme sports. Red Bull also own two football clubs, the Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg and American Major League Soccer side Red Bull New York.
Mateschitz , who lives in Salzburg and has his own airforce of veteran planes, was ranked 151st in the 2009 Forbes Billionaire's List with a $3.7bn fortune.
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