Why this is a bad time for Red Bull to drop their leading junior talent

2019 F1 season

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That Dan Ticktum has been shown the door by the Red Bull Junior Team comes as no surprise. The team may have kept the faith in him following his notorious 2016 ban for for overtaking cars and crashing into a Formula 3 rival under Safety Car conditions, but his performance slump has done for his chances. This year he scored but a single point in three Japanese Super Formula races.

Having been given his marching orders, Ticktum – a two-times Macau Grand Prix winner and holder of the 2017 BRDC young driver award and thus not lacking in talent – joins a long list of Red Bull rejects. These were schooled by the company at great expense in the hope of finding future F1 stars, yet mostly achieving great things in the sport outside of the Red Bull system. Rather perversely, when the company has needed to fill berths in its Formula 1 teams, the programme has been found wanting.

Red Bull’s records show over 70 drivers have passed through the Junior programme since 2001. That number excludes folk such as Enrique Bernoldi, whom ex-driver-turned-Red Bull F1 consultant Helmut Marko infamously rated as a better than Kimi Raikkonen, precipitating Red Bull’s split with Sauber. Of the 70, 14 (20 per cent) made it into F1.

The list also excludes former drivers such as Mark Webber and David Coulthard, who ‘made it’ to F1 without support from the company, while Max Verstappen was well on his way to the premier league when he signed for Toro Rosso. Such was Red Bull’s keenness to hire him, his handlers able to drive a hard bargain. Indeed, at the time they were in talks with Mercedes and Ferrari, and demanded he be put in an F1 car at age 17.

Dan Ticktum, Macau Grand Prix, 2018
Ticktum defended his Macau Grand Prix win last year
If all the drivers who received Red Bull support over the years – from karting to the top echelon – are factored into the equation, the total runs into hundreds. Yet when Red Bull needed to fill Toro Rosso’s two seats for this season it had to recall Daniil Kvyat (who it booted out of F1 a little over a year earlier) and Alexander Albon (who spent a single year on their programme in 2012).

If the aim of the Junior programme is to develop F1 drivers such situations point to something seriously amiss with the selection process. In 20 years and over 350 grands prix, just three alumni – Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen – won grands prix. Of these only Ricciardo can be considered a fully ‘homegrown’ product of Red Bull’s system, the other two having been schooled elsewhere.

Vettel, Red Bull’s only F1 world champion to date, made his F1 debut with BMW, who snapped him up following his crushing performance in the German Formula BMW championship. Verstappen was handed an F1 seat immediately after Red Bull signed him. As for Ricciardo, he departed the Red Bull fold immediately after he became a free agent. Perhaps Red Bull-Honda’s victory in Austria has given him causde to regret the move, but that is beside the point: At the time Ricciardo wanted out, for whatever reason.

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The programme’s strike rate suggests a ‘shotgun’ rather than ‘sniper’ approach to driver selection. Has it promoted drivers too far beyond their skill levels too soon?

Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, Formula E, Paris, 2018
Life after Red Bull: Vergne has thrived in Formula E
In management speak this phenomenon is known as the ‘Peter Principle’, named after the Canadian educational ‘hierarchiologist’ Dr Laurence J. Peter, who found employees (drivers, in this case) stop being promoted once they no longer perform effectively, and thus rise to the level of their incompetence.

Of course, as in the real world, many of these employees switch disciplines, then go on to attain great heights outside of the organisations that invested in them in the first place. Consider Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne or Le Mans 24 Hour winner/double WEC champion Brendon Harley. Indeed, the list of ultimately successful drivers lost by Red Bull is virtually as long as the alumni list!

Although Ticktum and Pierre Gasly, the latter the latest driver to be linked to demotion after a tough start to his first full season at Red Bull, can draw solace from the fact that there patently is life outside of Red Bull. But the overriding question remains: given that Ticktum was the only Red Bull Junior remotely close to a Super Licence, whom would Red Bull now call on were it to send Gasly packing?

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2019
Vettel visited Red Bull’s motorhome at the Austrian Grand Prix
Ironically, the Frenchman’s saving grace could be a lack of qualifications among the current junior drivers, none of which have the necessary qualifications to drive a Toro Rosso next year. Unless another ex-Junior Team member can be appointed to Toro Rosso (as with Hartley and Albon), Red Bull’s only means of replacing Gasly would be through a straight exchange of seats between him and one of the Red Bull drivers, much as they did in 2016.

In this scenario either Kvyat would regain a Red Bull seat in much the same way he lost one three years ago, or Albon would be elevated to the top team as quickly as Gasly was, which is arguably a cause of their current predicament.

But this doesn’t even begin to address the dilemma faced by Red Bull should rumours surrounding Verstappen’s departure at season’s end for pastures greener (or redder) come to pass. Just imagine – Red Bull could be forced to recall Vettel…

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70 comments on “Why this is a bad time for Red Bull to drop their leading junior talent”

  1. Much as this article is technically right about it not being ideal for Red Bull to have no immediate talent in the pipeline, it ignores the fact that Ticktum is clearly not of the right character for F1, hasn’t shown any real pace for nearly a year now, and that Patricio O’Ward will probably have superlicence points come next year. Even if the latter doesn’t, rumours are linking Red Bull to a steady second driver like Hulkenburg, which would probably do them better than the youngest line-up in the field.
    That it all still stems from their quick promotion of Verstappen, yeah that’s true. Were they right, in hindsight? Also yes.

    1. @hahostolze Red Bull is not looking for new talent, they are looking for the new world champion. By promoting Verstappen Red Bull effectively burned bridges with their junior programme, but Verstappen is (arguably) world champion material. So yes they were right in promoting Verstappen based on potential, but it preluded the demise of their junior programme.

      1. @hahostolze So yeah, I agree with you… :)

    2. Bruno Verrari
      8th July 2019, 12:36

      No! MadMax would definitely have benefited from another full Torro Rosso year, saving him from lots of embarresement.

      1. tony mansell
        8th July 2019, 15:11

        And 7 podiums inc a race win. OH SORRY ! Silly me, this isn’t a rational debate about Max is it. Duh

    3. @hahostolze, it looks like O’Ward is likely to fall short of the criteria needed to earn a superlicence – the 2018 Indy Lights championship would give him 15 points, and I think that he might be able to claim 12 points from his 2017 IMSA Prototype class championship.

      However, right now his performance in IndyCar is a long way short of earning any superlicence points – you need to finish in the top 10 to earn any superlicence points, and right now he is 22nd in the championship. Perhaps, if he were to obtain a practise superlicence and to earn additional points that way, he might get closer to being eligible, but right now it looks like he can’t score enough points to earn a licence this year.

      1. Electroball76
        8th July 2019, 18:13

        Vettel WDC for RedBull in 2021? Stranger things have happened!

    4. RB and Toro having 4 quite good pilots now in F1
      Still can sign Vettel or maybe Ocon or Russel. All good at least for a 2nd driver for RB, and
      they have a lot of power to fill up their rookie ranks.
      If i have to choose between Albon and Kvyat as a RB 2nd for next year i’d chose Albon, if he keeps up
      improving at this pace. Yet he shown something comparable to Gasly, and was a bit less error prone, still bit more brave, nice first season. Kvyat is good to some extent, but should beat Albon to have any chance to stay even at Toro for another year.
      I never seen Vettel deserving his 4 wdc titles as much as Prost. Winning them was quite effortless compared to the fights of most drivers. The RB of those years been a real spaceship maybe even better than MSC-s best Ferraris. I never seen him as strong as Hamilton, who i seen one of the definite bests of the modern F1 more than a decade before. Altough now i like Seb to some extent cuz he’s a decent guy.

      I’m still not sure about what Verstappen can achieve, hes very good, but the previous year’s Max probably not deserved to beat Ricciardo. Thats not that ultimate as that was something like his 4th full season. (What if he finishes behind Danny that year too? Danny’s prev season after the 1/3 of it looked like this:
      some major car failure on the actual GP or grid penalty to the next due to it. Almost every weekend. Despite of it they were quite close on points.)
      Altough i’m a bit biased as a i like Danny quite much (but i’m a fan of many many more either).
      It ‘d be hard to not like Verstappen too, after this Austria GP. The last 2 half seasons been really strong of him. But having results like Hamilton or Vettel requires a lot of luck either.

      If Vettel signs back to RB, a Ricciardo, Leclerc ‘d be internesting at Ferrari :)
      I think the major problem with modern F1 is the too high reliability of cars. It d be ok if the teams could produce equally fast cars, or if it ‘d be ok for F1 to be BOP-ed, but there is no point if engineering innovation and being BOP-ed too much at the same time. Returning to a much lower cap of running costs
      and to having engines and gearboxes lasting only 1 race distance ‘d be more internesting. They still ‘d be an engineering challenge due to the lower price. I’d say that price should be maximally one tenth of the current one to be eco friendlier too. The current way the faster team has just more runs to prove themselves, its just like run it twice in poker. Even the weakest teams can finish almost all the races with some exceptions.

    5. To be honest if Ticktum was a leading “junior talent” for RBR, then I feel sorry for them, the guy does not deserve a race seat in any formula, his results will never wash a away his disgraceful 2016 behaviour.

  2. Alonso – Vettel in the Red Bull – Hondas, you read it here first :)

  3. Russell needs to tell his agent/manager/whoever to start earning their pay.

    1. Good call.

    2. Russell has an F1 seat and is able to impress those in the know, despite the equipment at his disposal @nullapax @stjs16. The person who needs to have a word with his minders is Esteban Ocon…

      1. Yes, another good possibly but it seems Mercedes have the driver possibilities well controlled. I guess both Russell and Ocon will be watching VB performances with interest

  4. ”Yet when Red Bull needed to fill Toro Rosso’s two seats for this season it had to recall Daniil Kvyat (who it booted out of F1 a little over a year earlier)” – Not really, though, they could’ve kept Hartley had they wanted to.

    ”Red Bull could be forced to recall Vettel…”
    – I find these rumors and speculations entirely pointless TBH. He first and foremost is contracted to Ferrari (as is his teammate), so, therefore, it’s rather useless to consider an option like this for next season even if Max were to leave (equally unlikely due to contractual reasons.) People shouldn’t expect anything else than drivers respecting their ongoing valid contracts till they run out. Yes, exceptions to the rule have occasionally happened, but these are extremely rare.

  5. (1) This isn’t about timing, this is about driver quality, and Dan Ticktum clearly didn’t live up to the standards Red Bull set for him in 2019.

    (2) Your characterization of Sebastian Vettel as a third-party talent is wrong. He was already signed with Red Bull when he made his single-seater debut, BMW picked him up after dominating Formula BMW (with Red Bull branding on his helmet, if you want to check out the photos) and with both BMW and Red Bull having teams in F1, it was more of a coincidence that it was at BMW Sauber that his first chance for Friday running and later his Formula 1 race debut after Robert Kubica’s accident running opened up there.

    Seb then quickly moved into STR, Robert having returned to BMW, and Red Bull proper in 2009.

    1. @proesterchen, as you note, I am also pretty sure that Vettel was still under contract with Red Bull whilst he was at BMW-Sauber. I believe that Red Bull loaned him to BMW-Sauber as their reserve and test driver for that season because BMW-Sauber were permitted, under the rules at the time, to have additional free practise time in return for running drivers like Vettel, but that Red Bull retained the right to recall Vettel back to their team if required.

      In that sense, Vettel’s situation was similar to that which Mercedes signed with Renault back in 2016, where Ocon was loaned to Renault as a temporary test/reserve driver and took part in a few practise sessions for Renault, before Mercedes then recalled him and placed him at Manor instead. During that period, Ocon might have taken part in practise sessions for Renault, but he still remained under contract with Mercedes.

  6. Pardon my ignorance, but on face value Verstappen’s career pre-F1 seems underwhelming. Especially when you compare it to other rookies like Russell or Leclerc for example. Why was he so hot?

    1. @carbon_fibre He was excellent in karts and really quick in F3, but in the latter he was hit by some unfortunately-timed engine penalties:


      Then Red Bull signed him for Toro Rosso in August so winning the championship became irrelevant! Esteban Ocon won the title, but whenever the two went wheel-to-wheel it was usually Verstappen who came out ahead:


    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      8th July 2019, 13:27

      Rather than taking the usual route into a domestic F4 / Formula Renault type championship, Max went straight from winning everything in karts into the premier European F3 championship.
      In his first season in cars he finished 3rd, and showed himself to be super aggressive, and looked more naturally talented than championship winner Ocon, who was in his third season out of karts at that point.
      This as enough for Ferrari / Merc / RedBull to take immediate interest, which was cleverly parlayed into an early Toro Rosso drive.
      The only reason Max doesn’t have as much junior silverware as Leclerc or Russell, is he didn’t need it, having leapfrogged the GP3/GP2 ladder entirely.

      1. Max also drove for a second-rate team in F3, whose best driver finished 9th in 2013. Max finished 3rd, despite having two to three times the retirements of the nr. 1 and 2 in the standings.

    3. @carbon_fibre. Underwhelming? He won everything in karting consistently beating Leclerc. In his last year of karting he won the winter series, euro series, Europeanen championship and World championship. Max F3 season was his first year in single seaters and Ocon did much worse in his first year in single seaters in 2012 only becoming 12th in formule Renault 2.0. When Leclerc drove in F3 for the same team Van Amersfoort Racing he did worse then Verstappen only becoming 4th in the championship. In the year Ocon won F3 (his third season in single seaters btw) Max won more races as Ocon in arguably much worse team. Max had 8 DNF’s and one DNS due too mostly mechanical issues that year and Ocon had only 3 DNF that year. This was the only reason didn’t won F3 that year! Do some research before you make such stupid remarks!

  7. Ticktum and Verstappen in the same team. Sounds, err, spicy. Obviously Ticktum might have been so far off VER’s pace, he couldn’t get close enough for some kind of altercation to start, but I can’t see that stopping trouble from brewing. So it would have been fantastic :O(

  8. Red Bull’s records show over 70 drivers have passed through the Junior programme since 2001 . . . . Of the 70, 14 (20 per cent) made it into F1.

    How does that percentage compare to the Ferrari and Mercedes programmes?

    1. @nickwyatt Not well with Mercedes, better than Ferrari – though I think this is partly a philosophy issue in both cases.

      Mercedes believes in selecting a very few drivers very carefully and nurturing them into F1. I’m not sure of its exact conversion rate, but think it is over 50% if we are considering “just” entering F1. The low number is because they’re only really interested in filling two seats, and we’ve seen that even with the few they have in the program, there is still considerable logjam going on. This is why the Mercedes program has withered somewhat in the last few years; it’s good at getting drivers all dressed up with nowhere to go.

      Ferrari always has a clutch of drivers, though its exact approach has varied. Back when Italian F3 was a thing, the winner of it was pretty much guaranteed an entry into the Ferrari Driver Academy. In the early days, there was a lot of experimentation, and it took a while for them to figure out what worked. This is how, of the twenty-something drivers they’ve had in their program in the 10 years of its existence, only 4 made it to F1 whilst still being in the programme, giving a strike rate of below 20%. (Lance Stroll doesn’t count because he spent two years training under the Williams program, despite having spent six years prior to this in the Ferrari Driver Academy. Sergio Perez does because he quit after his Sauber year to try his luck at McLaren). However, almost everyone who wasn’t thrown out for insufficient skill is either racing professionally in a Ferrari… or one of the current nine-driver roster. Ferrari is quite happy to have a professional racer spending a decade or more bringing glory to its name in sportscars (James Calado is the classic example), so it doesn’t mind having a low F1 “strike rate” the way the other programs might.

      Red Bull started its program as a promotional tool as much as a driver development tool, deliberately getting drivers from all over the world to help establish its name, with relatively little regard for relative skill level. This worked, and eventually it got more focused on looking for F1-level talent for its four seats. I suspect if those early years were eliminated, Red Bull’s strike rate would improve – though not to Mercedes’ level. It’s taken an “iron sharpens iron” attitude, and happily pitted its own drivers against each other to an extent Mercedes would never consider, and Ferrari doesn’t use with the same level of deliberation. Red Bull is not shy about weeding out drivers relatively quickly (Dan’s had an unusual number of chances, which I think is down to being a personality match with the program). So it would expect not to have Mercedes’ strike rate, but hopes to get stronger drivers out of the bargain. I think it has… …but despite this, they’re not necessarily more compatible with the team’s requirements.

      1. @alianora-la-canta Thank you for your comprehensive reply and clarification. The reason for my original query was to exemplify the differences in approach by the teams who run young driver programs or academies. And armed with the information that you supplied, the 20% figure from Red Bull seems quite reasonable. Thanks again.

        1. @nickwyatt You are very welcome :)

  9. Literally every time is a good time to drop Dan Ticktum.

    Red Bull’s junior programme is and has been a mess for many years now (barring Verstappen and debatably Vettel, whom they snatched from BMW and patched the Red Bull junior driver sticker on mere moments before he took place in the Toro Rosso, figuratively speaking; honourable mentions to Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Vito Liuzzi, who at least managed to have a bit of a career after cutting ties with Red Bull). Dropping a driver whose chances of obtaining a Super License were getting slimmer with every race, and whose anti-social tendencies were apparently too strong even in the context of the shark tank that is the Red Bull junior sphere, didn’t make their situation any worse.
    Sooner or later, they’ll have to accept that their approach of only hiring their own junior drivers (or their “own” junior drivers, see Vettel) isn’t quite working sustainably. Either they stop trying to break their drivers so that only the strongest survive (a mechanism that is bound to create many more Ticktums if it continues to operate that way), or they start looking for fresh blood outside of their programme. Alternatively, they’ll have to accept that their method only brings forth one remarkable driver every decade or so, but only exceptionally a team of two strong drivers.

    1. nase, saying that he was “snatched from BMW” is pretty inaccurate.

      Vettel signed his first contract with Red Bull in 1998, and when Red Bull formally formed their Junior Team, Vettel was one of the very first drivers to be signed to that team. At the time that Vettel signed his first contract with Red Bull in 1998, BMW had only just signed a supply deal with Williams and were still working on developing their first engine.

      When Vettel was formally transferred to the Red Bull Junior Team in 2001, that was two years before his first Formula BMW season, four years before his first test in the FW27 and five years before he was loaned by Red Bull to BMW-Sauber. It wasn’t a case of Red Bull patching “the Red Bull junior driver sticker on mere moments before he took place in the Toro Rosso” – he was part of Red Bull’s Junior Team from the very inception and years before BMW showed any interest in Vettel.

      1. Ouch. I stand corrected.

  10. “leading junior talent”? Not only he was crap in Superformula, he also failed to impress in Asian F3 earlier this year… a fact that curiously is not mentioned in your article. The only thing he excelled at was arrogance

    1. @ JFCVT

      he also failed to impress in Asian F3 earlier this year

      Asian F3? I can’t find anything that suggests he ever drove there.

      1. He did the first two rounds of the winter series. That didn’t turn out well either:


        1. @keithcollantine
          Aah, thanks, now I remember. I must’ve been looking in the wrong places.

    2. “leading junior talent”?

      In that no one else on the Junior Team has more superlicence points and was therefore a likelier prospect to end up in F1 next year.

      1. @keithcollantine, what about Juri Vips – Ticktum’s former Formula 3 team mate, and a member of the Red Bull Junior Team since November last year? Even before this move, Vips actually looked like the more likely one to be able to secure a superlicence this year.

        At the end of 2018, I believe that Vips was on virtually the same superlicence points total as Ticktum – I believe that Ticktum had 28 points, comprising 25 from 2nd in the 2018 European Formula 3 championship and 3 points from his 4th place in the 2016 British Formula 3 championship.

        Vips, I believe, had at least 27 points by the end of 2018: 2 points from 6th in the 2016 ADAC Formula 4 championship, 3 points from 5th in the Italian Formula 4 championship, 12 points from winning the 2017 Italian Formula 4 championship and 10 points from 4th in the European Formula 3 championship.

        Now, Vips has continued in Formula 3 for another year, and right now he is 3rd in the championship. If he is at least 3rd in Formula 3, the 20 points that would give him, combined with his 10 points from his 4th place in 2018 and his 12 points from his 2017 Formula 4 title, should give him 42 points, enough to put him over the 40 point minimum threshold to apply for a superlicence at the end of this year.

        With that in mind, even though he was a late appointment, I would suggest that Vips should now be the one labelled as Red Bull’s leading driver in their junior team, and arguably should have been even before Ticktum’s demotion.

      2. @keithcollantine Except Patricio O’Ward, who thanks to his results in Pro Mazda, Indy Lights and the prototype class of IMSA, has exactly the right number of points to step into F1 this year.

        1. @alianora-la-canta
          But does he actually have those points? Many other media outlets keep pointing out that his points are unconfirmed thanks to the confusion regarding the FIAs points giving criteria. Both Pro Mazda and Indy Lights potentially had grids too small to count towards full points, so he very much has an asterisk beside those points.
          Also the way he’s been moved around of late, he is almost guaranteed not to score licence points in any category this year (joining Super Formula and/or F2 too late to compete for licence points).

        2. @alianora-la-canta, as @eurobrun rightly notes, at best there is doubt about O’Ward’s eligibility – in fact, I don’t think that he actually has any superlicence points when you actually check the minimum requirements.

          Originally, I thought that his IMSA Prototype championship might count, but now that is not entirely clear. Whilst he did compete in the 2017 season, it wasn’t in the highest category – he competed in the “Prototype Challenge” class, which was a class specific to IMSA organised series, but the performance was closer to that of an LMP3 car than the “Prototype” class, which runs to the DPi regulations and is based on LMP2 cars.

          The implication, therefore, is that the FIA might not actually count the “Prototype Challenge” championship (which no longer exists anyway, as IMSA abolished it at the end of the 2017 season), as it is implied that they are only counting the top tier – i.e. the DPi class – towards superlicence points.

          The other issue is that, if you read the fine print closely, the FIA states that superlicence points for IMSA run series championships are “Subject to all road course rounds being held on tracks homologated by the FIA.” The problem there is that the 2017 “Prototype Challenge” championship included the road course layout for the Daytona International Speedway, and that is potentially not homologated by the FIA – if that is the case, that is another factor that suggests O’Ward wouldn’t be able to claim any points from that series.

          As Eurobrun rightly notes, the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship does not count because that series only had six full time drivers, with a handful of drivers then driving for part of the season.

          The FIA’s superlicence rules include a requirement that a qualifying championship must “Have a minimum 12 drivers starting each race weekend.” That requirement means that O’Ward’s 2016 Pro Mazda Championship won’t qualify, because there were multiple race weekends where there were fewer than 12 starters – the grid was occasionally down to just 8 starters that season, well short of the minimum threshold, and there were more races below that threshold than there were over the minimum threshold of 12 drivers.

          The exact same issue crops up with his 2017 Indy Lights Championship, where there were just 7 full time drivers and the calendar also included non-FIA homologated circuits – both of those factors almost certainly rule that championship out of contention as well.

          When you look at the minimum requirements, then O’Ward probably doesn’t actually qualify for a single superlicence point. The only championship he has competed in over the past three years where he could have earned superlicence points is IndyCar, but he’s not scored a top 10 championship position and therefore hasn’t earned a single point from those championships either.

          1. @anon Thank you for that extremely detailed breakdown. For some reason I’d thought he was in the Prototype class (the other name for the DPi class – they’re vaguely similar to LMP2s in performance, but the comparison is hotly debated) rather than the PC class in IMSA.

            If the rules are being held strictly – and I have no reason to believe a special exemption would be made for Patricio even if that provision had continued to exist – it gets worse. The “80% of the season” rules means neither his GP2 nor Super Formula appearances will score him any points, even if he somehow won both titles. Only the Indycar points (if he gets any) will help.

          2. @eurobrun Tagging as it suddenly occurred to me that you’d be interested in the response also.

          3. @alianora-la-canta
            Thanks for that. I’d missed Anon’s detailed comments first time around.
            I feel like Patricio may have taken quite the gamble here as if he gets dropped by Red Bull, he might not have much to fall back on. But fair play to him, he wants to be in F1 and understands the sacrifices he’ll have to make. Good luck to him.
            He finished 14th (out of 20) on his Super Formula debut this weekend in a very heavy rain affected race at Fuji, so that’s probably not a bad showing, and more positive than his F2 debut.

  11. Albon would like to have a word..

    This guy was on it from the first day of testing! And although it would be far too soon, I’d rather see him step up to the Red Bull seat over Kvyat.

  12. What’s the point of keeping drivers in your program if you feel they aren’t good enough for the endgame?

    1. @montalvo cause they wanna stick their logo on his car for press time when he does crazy stuff. That’s all I could think of anyway!!!

    2. There always is a period of growrh.. talents need development and some time for some.

  13. F1oSaurus (@)
    8th July 2019, 15:20

    Indeed, at the time they were in talks with Mercedes and Ferrari, and demanded he be put in an F1 car at age 17.

    “They” must (should) feel pretty bad about that decision by now.

    Doing that extra year in F2 seems like nothing when you are in the fifth season with a car not able to really compete for the championship. Probably would have also helped get the initial immaturity dialed down a bit.

    Although of course “they” keep up the smiles and “believe in the project”.

    1. What initial immaturity?

      1. @montalvo the immaturity that made him crash quite a bit and be a dreadful team player, and come across as a petulant child.

        1. crash quite a bit

          not if you look at the statistics compared with other more experienced drivers.
          I bit stretching your lack of arguments.

      2. @montalvo Apart from anything else, the huge argument in China 2017 that in any other team would have resulted in being kicked ou and forced Red Bull to promote him before it wanted to do so. Fortunately for the program, Max took to Red Bull proper like a duck to water…

        Another year in junior series, and Max might well have had a much smoother initial time in F1, and rather faster development upon arrival in Red Bull.

  14. tony mansell
    8th July 2019, 15:26

    Hmm not sure about these stats. Heres some for you: Only 1 driver wins the WDC each year. In the 10 championships since Buttons theres only been Lewis, Vettel & 1 for Nico. Mercedes have won 6 in a row. RBR have only been in F1 14 years and Newey, the kingmaker, since 2007. Its notoriously difficult to judge future stars, just look at the still born Vandoorne. I think they’ve done rather well and certainly mixed up the piranha club to the extent McLaren completely lost the plot. Ferrari are finding new ways to underwhelm and Mercedes had to blow everyone out the water with budget, personnel and the best driver.

    We could do with 2 or 3 more teams like RBR but I guess that’s why you’re picking on them dumping a minor driver.

  15. I genuinely think that Red Bull’s success in promoting and finding excellent young talent previously has worked against them now. Because now, in an attempt to follow the Red Bull model, teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren have realized the value of signing raw talents with world-class potential, and making deals with other teams to have a clear pathway into the first team. As a result, there are fewer talents for Red Bull to choose from, as the moment that someone like a George Russell, Charles Leclerc, Stoffel Vandoorne or Lando Norris appears on the scene, previously Red Bull would be able to offer them an opportunity nobody else could, but now, that’s just not the case anymore.

  16. If Red Bull had done the sensible thing and given the number 2 car to Carlos Sainz Jr and kept Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso for a 2nd full season then there would be no problem. But for some stupid reason I will probably never understand they let Sainz go to McLaren instead of bringing him back into their fold when Daniel Ricciardo decided to join Renault, leaving them with little choice but to promote Gasly when he wasn’t ready and then go scrambling for Alex Albon for the Toro Rosso number 2 car. So it is completely their own fault that they have a problem with an underperforming driver.

    1. Max and his “team” probably scotched that possibility, considering how much friction there was behind the scenes when the two were at Toro Rosso.

  17. RB’s decision makes sense to me. If they’ve concluded that they don’t want Ticktum in their F1 cars, then the fact that they currently have a driver shortage in F1 is irrelevant to that. If he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough. If anything, kicking him out frees up funding for new talent.

  18. I was amazed they didn’t drop him the day he got banned for his on-track craziness… so it is just the delayed, but totally expected, decision.

    About wrong time… well, it is not worse than a year before, or the year before the last year… – as was back then – they don’t have any drivers to fill 2 teams. That’s why they have to deal with the likes of Kvyat (though I admit he upped his game this year) and Gasly.

    … And there’s the fact that I can’t envision anyone wishing to drive for them – team with toxic driver-as-gap-fill atmosphere, constantly moaning loudmouth team principal, Honda engines (which are changed every 2 races… rather than 7…).

    Even Ocon will decline to drive for them.

    1. @dallein He wasn’t a Red Bull Junior driver until after he returned from the ban, so dropping him at that point would have been difficult.

  19. I thing the event worth examining is Ricciardo leaving. He was the best driver they could have paired with Max. Red Bull had the best car he could have got. Why couldn’t they make it work?

    In my view Red Bull demonstrated they favored Verstappen, which forced Riccardo’s departure. I don’t think they needed to favor anyone either, because the car wasn’t good enough to win championship. Now that they could compete with Ferrari they lack the talent. It even hurts Verstappen – he may have won last weekend without a wingman, but it is had to imagine consistent victories with support.

    1. @slotopen

      In my view Red Bull demonstrated they favored Verstappen, which forced Riccardo’s departure.

      I’m with you.
      I think Max is far more likely to be a WDC than Ric but losing a talent like Ricciardo has only hurt them as a team.
      Better to have an aggressive second than someone who can’t even keep up.

      1. Loosing Ricci was mainly the fear Ricci encountered of not having any chance becoming WDC with a faster driver as teammate.
        A team like Renault was his only opportunity to go for WDC in the foreseeable future.

  20. Vettel’s move to Ferrari is the cause of Red Bull’s suffering. They had to act quickly and promoted Kvyat instead of the proven and tested JEV. That didn’t go well, and they let go Vergne, then Sainz, and had to fetch Hartley, Albon and re-hire Kvyat.

    Up until that point, the system was working. I mean, Vettel was the first driver to race for both STR and RBR. And that went well. Same with Ricciardo. No one knows what JEV might’ve done, he could’ve been a great transition driver between Vettel and Verstappen. And the stability at the top team would’ve secured some stability at Toro Rosso.

    1. The Red Bull suffering has all to do with leaving the V8 era and entering the V6 turbo hybrid era.

  21. Patricio O’Ward has enough Superlicence points to be in F1 – provided he either joins in before the end of this year, or gets at least 7 points from the combination of Indy Cars and F2 (6th in Indy Cars, 8th in F2 or a combination of top-10 finishes in both will do). Otherwise, he will become ineligible. Getting 7 points across 2020 and 2021 in that scenario should not be difficult, but F1 is if spelt backwards:

    1st in Indy Lights (2018) – 15 points
    1st in IMSA Prototypes (2018) – 18 points
    2nd in Pro Mazda (2016) – 7 points

    Total – 40 points (7 to be lost at the end of 2019 because the Pro Mazda points cease to count)

    I believe he was hired due to the unlikelihood of Dan getting enough points to get a full-time F1 seat this year, even if he hadn’t lost his Super Formula seat. I think Dan’s team dropped him in advance of the loss of his Red Bull backing, which implies they had less faith in him than Pierre’s team did in him at the same point of the season. Dan didn’t have the right character for F1 even before Red Bull hired him, but if anyone was going to make him F1-worthy, Red Bull was, so I can see why they tried so hard to make it work.

    Since it is necessary to partake of 80% of a season to get Superlicence points for that season, even putting Dan in another series and hoping he’d rock it means he’d score zero Superlicence points, meaning he’d be even further away from F1 elegibility than ever. Red Bull doesn’t have much presence in disciplines other than F1, so unlike Ferrari, it couldn’t do anything with Dan. Removing him from the program was the only logical option.

    If Pierre needs substituting, Patricio would be the logical incomer (and yes, I think Albon would get promoted, and further underline that this is perhaps a sub-optimal handling procedure for one’s drivers). It would not surprise me if Red Bull waited until the end of the Indycar season to put him in, since this would still give Patricio a few races to get used to things before the full pressure cooker gets turned on in 2020. Though quite how either Patricio or Alex will get on with Red Bull’s assumption that everyone must be like Max (or fake a similar level of ferocity) to succeed at the highest level will be interesting.

    It’s possible for “the lion” to manifest at the highest level in many ways but I don’t think Red Bull fully realises this. The success level of Red Bull alumni suggests they’re good at picking people who either already have the lion or can have it developed to an appropriate degree in them. However, in only recognising one archetype for an ultimately successful F1 driver (as distinct from “merely” a F1-worthy one), Red Bull has made much the same error as McLaren did in the late 2000s – it assumed the Hamilton archetype was the only way to ultimate success, and as a result gave different support to the very different drivers it hired after that, than those drivers actually needed.

    1. @alianora-la-canta, you’ve miscalculated the totals there – firstly, as I’ve explained earlier in this thread, it is almost certain that none of those series qualify because they have either used non-FIA homologated circuits or only had 7 or 8 drivers taking part, falling well short of the minimum requirement of 12 drivers taking part in that championship (and often failing on both counts).

      Secondly, even if you do try and include the 2017 IMSA Prototype Challenge title (it’s 2017 and not 2018, as he only took part in two races in 2018), then you have miscalculated that points total as well. Currently, the FIA only award 12 points for a victory in an IMSA Prototype championship – the FIA will eventually raise that to 18 points, but that is only from the 2020 season onwards, so it’s incorrect to claim it will be 18 points.

      Even if you were to try to claim all of those series counted, he’d only have 34 points, not 40 – but, in reality, none of those series seem to qualify and O’Ward doesn’t seem to be eligible for any superlicence points.

  22. Kudos to RBR for even having a young drivers program. They had one long before it became fashionable. It would have been much easier just to let others invest in young talent and then just buy off the best one.

    Red bull have two F1 teams. That by itself is amazing considering many teams are struggling to survive. This means 4 seats. You cant fit a hundred drivers. So obviously most of them will not be in F1 and race elsewhere. Whats the problem with that? Better than nothing.

    Let RBR manage their drivers as they like. I dont think they will have a problem filling a seat when it comes to it.

  23. I can’t see VET going back to RB. I think he will retire anyway at the end of 2020. I think HAM will also retire then.

  24. That’s a very good piece. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thanks for that.

  25. Can Red Bull just give Super Formula/Super GT champ Naoki Yamamoto a go if they kick Gasly to the curb? I maen, why not? And they can time it right just before the Japan GP. This guy is a helluva driver. Ask Jenson Button.

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