Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Steiner expects future debate over whether Red Bull should have two F1 teams

Formula 1

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner expects Red Bull’s ownership of two Formula 1 teams will become a point of contention as demand for places on the grid grows.

Red Bull Racing shares the same owner as AlphaTauri, its junior team which was known until 2019 as ‘Toro Rosso’, Italian for ‘Red Bull’. The senior team entered F1 in 2005, followed the year later by its junior squad, as the soft drink giant took over first Jaguar and then Minardi respectively.

With demand for places on the grid rising Steiner, who was Red Bull’s technical operations director during their first season in F1, suspects the team’s unique arrangement could face challenges in the future.

Asked in an exclusive interview for RaceFans whether it was right for two teams to share the same owner, Steiner said: “I think, right or not right, it needs to be discussed.

“Obviously, there is a lot of other sports where that is not allowed. But up to now there was not an issue with this.”

Steiner has consistently argued against expanding the F1 grid beyond its current 10 teams. Nonetheless the FIA this month gave its approval for Andretti-Cadillac to enter.

“Because the sport is becoming more and more popular, [gaining] more and more worth financially, so more and more of these things will come up because everything gets more difficult,” Steiner continued. “So this will be for sure an argument which sooner or later will come up.”

Sports which prevent multiple teams having the same owner include Spanish football where club’s B teams, many of which are successful in their own right, cannot be promoted into the same league as the A team even if they win their league.

However Steiner said he sees no current problem with Red Bull’s arrangement in F1. “It’s [been] 18 years now, so it worked fine up to now,” he said.

“But at some stage there will be the questions asked and there will be answers why it works or why it shouldn’t work. But it’s not [worth reacting] on this one because it works a long time.”

RaceFans’ exclusive interview with Guenther Steiner will appear here later today.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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36 comments on “Steiner expects future debate over whether Red Bull should have two F1 teams”

  1. I expect future debates over if Steiner should have one at all. Maybe after Steiner contributes just 10% of what Red Bull contributes to F1 on a global level he can have a say about this. Maybe.

    1. He’s obnoxious and I don’t like his stance against bringing in Andretti just because Haas let his eponymous team go to shit. But, he’s a team principal so can probably have more of a say than you or I ;). He is really annoying though

    2. Agreed, So as Steiner is saying F1 is bigger and welthier than ever and that’s why they cannot afford to share with an 11th team – makes no sense.

      Steiner would bette focus on his team, and improve its value for F1, which is very low since its creation. So much more than the 2 RB teams and Andretti/Cadillac’s project.

      He’s such a joke. Nice to sell T-shirt reminding his cursing, though.

      1. Don’t even like the t-shirt part, I’m 100% negative on steiner atm.

    3. @sjaakfoo it’s interesting that you seem more interested in simply going for a personal attack on Steiner and suggesting that Steiner should be forced to shut up, rather than looking to address the question of whether Red Bull’s continued ownership of a junior team is beneficial to the sport as a whole.

  2. It’s worth looking at Red Bull’s acquisition of Minardi in its context at the time, which was that the debate over customer/”B” teams was a live and unresolved issue. As well as Toro Rosso, you also had Super Aguri who used year-old Honda cars from 2007 until their demise in mid-2008, and Prodrive had well-advanced plans to enter F1 with customer McLaren cars. Additionally you had teams like Sauber who were de facto “Ferrari B” thanks to their engine deal before the BMW takeover. In that sense Red Bull were just ahead of the curve.

    I also think it’s a mistake to focus solely on ownership when we’re considering the independence of F1 teams. There are plenty of relationships up and down the grid that are just as problematic as the Red Bull/AlphaTauri connection, like Williams getting its entire rear end from Mercedes. This manifests in other ways too, leading to incidents like Toto Wolff throwing his weight around when Williams signed Albon, threatening to veto the deal if he didn’t cut all ties with Red Bull.

    So yes, by all means let’s have 10 (or more) teams that are as independent of one another as possible. That can only be good for the sport. But it’s about more than who the owners are.

    1. Yes, true, but these issues don’t need to get tangled up.

      Red Bull owning two teams is an issue.
      Engine manufacturers having influence over their clients, from voting to driver choices, is an issue.
      Haas doing next to nothing for F1 (or American drivers) is an issue.

      Ultimately Steiner has to make the numbers add up, that’s all he really has to justify to Haas. These statements are all part of the dance that Liberty and the teams now have to engage in with their discussion with Andretti.

    2. Yes, the Red Bull acquisition of Minardi was good at the time. Minardi was going to be yet another team going into liquidation, and F1 didn’t need that. However, it always makes me feel uncomfortable that they so openly talk about the two teams being the senior team and the junior team, and I doubt anyone in the junior team would dare to try and hold up the senior team drivers. They don’t issue team orders as such, but I suspect the drivers in the B team know exactly what is required of them.

      1. Coventry Climax
        18th October 2023, 17:44

        There was -and still is, as far as I know- nothing to withhold Mercedes, Ferrari or whomever to buy a second team as well.
        Both Mercedes and Ferrari could have bought Force India easily, for example, when it went up for sale.
        As for inter team orders, we clearly heard Russell, when driving for Williams, say he was part of the Mercedes team and should not be impeding, let alone crashing with his team mates over at the senior team. So zero difference in that respect.

        I’d like to attribute a certain trait to Steiner, but I’m not allowed to here. Has to do with saying A and doing B. Let’s quote him: “I think, right or not right, it needs to be discussed.”
        Why on earth would you want to discuss something that’s right? And then go on about why it’s different in other sports, and may not be right in F1. That’s, well, that word I’m not supposed to say.

        1. CC, I don’t recall Russell saying that, but regardless of what Russell was saying, I don’t think Williams regard themselves as Merc’s B team. It really is poor for Russell to say that. It doesn’t matter if Russell was paid by Merc and on loan to Williams, you still should drive only for the team you are representing that day and not give preferential treatment to drivers in certain other teams.

          1. Latifi very much did say he was a “Mercedes” driver near the end of the 2021 season and he would get out of Hamilton’s way if the situation (lapped) came up.

          2. Well, fred, latifi didn’t do a good job as a merc driver at the end of that season! And that’s probably why he’s no longer in the seat, now I think about it!

          3. Coventry Climax
            19th October 2023, 22:48

            You may not remember it, but it did happen. That was when Russel and Bottas collided. Russel was furious initially, but after a talk with mr. Wolff, who was not officially his team boss at that time, his tune had changed a full 100%, saying he understood he was not supposed to get in the way of the boys from the ‘A-team’.

    3. I blame you personally, Red.

  3. Teams like Haas wouldn’t be on the grid themselves if they hadn’t been the “11th team” at one point. I would love to see more teams come in as there are so many more drivers deserving of chances and drivers seem to stay around much longer these days meaning we may mis out on seeing some good talents get their shot. 12 teams would be good IMO, but I don’t see this happening due to current teams.

    I understand all the opposition to Andretti and current teams need to look after themselves, but personally, I think they should have no say in who is allowed to enter.

    As for Red Bull having 2 teams, I personally feel if you are going to be opposed to more teams entering, then you shouldn’t have more than one team yourself.

  4. We should really be having a debate over whether Haas should exist. Awful team who buy it all from Dallara & Ferrari. Ran boy a cowboy convict billionaire cheap skate & a guy who’s entire personality is DTS. Fact Gunther is bigger than Haas says it all. Should sell to Andrettti who I don’t even like but at least they’ve publicly baked themselves in a corner of being a true competitor. Even if hey flop it would be better viewing than Haas. P.s. I’ve always agreed that Alfa Tauri/Torro Rosso should be sold, too much power, not like RB aren’t getting their own enginged but even then at least team do vote their own way on things and arne’t a literally sister team

  5. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    18th October 2023, 11:51

    Ignoring Hass, toro rosso needs to be sold.

  6. F1 being over-possessive regarding new times (notably Andretti) might backfire one day – and F1 could lose not only Alpha Tauri but also the likes of Haas, Williams or Alfa Romeo.
    Unlikely maybe (for now), but not impossible.

  7. Guenther Has to much time on his hands, first he tries to stop Andretti, now a team that’s been in the sport for 18 years.
    He needs to remember Hass are nothing more than a Ferrari B team, He should be focusing on making them competitive instead of being the whipping boys.

  8. Just waiting for a scenario where the Red Bull needs a victory at all costs at the last round of championship and suddenly their sister team causes a safety car, giving them a golden opportunity to snatch the WDC. It will be too late then to debate whether or not it’s fair to have 2 teams on the grid.

    1. it’s like it’s so obvious nobody notices!

    2. I remember a race where a team needed a victory at all costs at the last race of the championship making them decide to underfuel the car to increase the possibility it would be leading and make a deal with a customer team to cause a safety car with not enough laps left to finish the race under green conditions, making sure their lead car would win the race under the safety car……

      Thank god for Masi.

      But hey, sister teams are way different than customer teams, no?

    3. To be fair to them, they had that opportunity in Abu Dhabi 2021 and chose not do do so.
      Red Bull is competitive as hell and try to outsmart (more often successfully than not) the other competitors and the FIA as well in all possible ways. It’s barely tolerable for a non die hard Verstappen or Red Bull fan, but they shy away from blatant cheating and have done so since they’ve entered the sport…

      1. It’s barely tolerable for a non die hard Verstappen or Red Bull fan, but they shy away from blatant cheating and have done so since they’ve entered the sport…

        They did deliberately cheat, which is why they were disqualified in Australia 2014. Worse, Horner in his classic style tried to suggest it was okay because everyone else was too. They weren’t.

        The floor shenanigans in 2012 probably weren’t deliberate cheating, but it was also not okay. They were lucky that back in those days they could make changes and nobody cared to protest any results (thanks Stefano). Other teams have their fair share of such cases, too, so it’s not unique to Red Bull.

    4. I cannot remember which season/race it was, but there was a race where Vettel was starting way down the grid and needed a high placing to secure the championship. The Toro Rossos leapt out of the way to let Vettel past. It probably didn’t make any difference in the end, but it was still quite blatant.

      1. Robert Henning
        18th October 2023, 16:59

        It also has happened with Verstappen. Having said that I don’t see why thats a serious issue generally speaking. Most midfielders don’t bother to fight top team drivers starting behind them and simply let them by, given they have everything to lose in this scenario wrt tires and the fact that their race isn’t with the charging guy.

        In a close title fight it could be an issue for sure but those are rare and I can’t recall any instance in 21 of RB having had to make use of their B team explicitly. Potentially Turkey with Hamilton and Tsunoda that I can recall but Hamilton was poor the entire race with his racing so don’t see it as a robust Tsunoda defense as much as I see it as an indecisive Hamilton race given he somehow couldn’t even win the battle versus Perez.

      2. That must’ve been brazil 2012, even schumacher let him by because of their relationship and being on his last ever f1 race.

        There was also abu dhabi 2010, where vettel, alonso and webber were fighting for the title and I heard a message I didn’t expect to one of the toro rosso drivers: “webber is faster than you, webber is faster than you” and he let him by!

  9. In an age where there is both a cost cap and aero/cfd time restrictions it should not be allowed to own two teams.

    Too many conflicts of interest, what is aero guys in a junior team are asked to test out concepts and then report back the best one?

  10. Couldn’t there be a problem with two teams and the financial cap. Where, as an example, the teams design different parts of the car and then both teams use these parts.

    1. The specific parts that can be purchased from third parties is limited by the regulations though, so they can’t each make half a car.

      They’ll have to list a reasonable cost for those purchases, too. I’m sure the FIA’s cost oversight body wouldn’t be impressed by “Red Bull Technology” selling their entire gearbox set-up to “Alpha Tauri” for some incredibly low fee.

  11. Coventry Climax
    18th October 2023, 18:01

    It shouldn’t be a problem if the FiA would still require all teams to be their own proper constructors, instead of increasingly allowing teams to run parts designed by others.
    In my opinion, that’s where the real issue lies. The bigger the dependency on someone else’s parts, the bigger the issue.

    In another aspect too, the FiA is largely to blame: With an engine formula that’s way too complicated, manufacturer’s aren’t interested in joining, resulting in teams having just a few options to choose from.

    1. There’s a fine balance to be had between sensible cost savings via that avenue and conflicts of interest. Personally, I think it’d be a disaster if every team needed to make almost all the components themselves.

      1. Coventry Climax
        19th October 2023, 22:55

        For all the years that that was the norm, it never was a disaster, actually.
        It’s a constructor’s championship too, remember?
        Maybe the definition has changed over the years, but by my book, constructor does not mean buy and assemble. Or photocopy another’s car.

  12. Because the sport is becoming more and more popular, [gaining] more and more worth financially […]

    Whoa there!! I thought F1 teams were on the brink of financial ruin, and one more team was all it took to start the dominos dropping?

    Which is it? The sport’s gaining in popularity and revenue, or Andretti joining the grid will be catastrophic for all the teams?

  13. I’ve been saying this for a long time…
    The teams don’t want a new tem because of money divisions… yet Red Bull gets money for 2 teams…

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