Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda, Interlagos, 2023

“Not just a name change”: Red Bull wants its second team to be title contenders

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

While the inelegant new name for Red Bull’s second Formula 1 team captured headlines, their announcement today was arguably more significant for another reason.

When Red Bull first took over the former Minardi team and rebranded it as Toro Rosso, its objective was to serve as a training ground for young drivers. A “kindergarten”, as original team principal Franz Tost put it.

A series of drivers were promoted from junior categories in the hope of becoming Red Bull racers. Some of these succeeded spectacularly, including Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.

Today Red Bull has formally confirmed a change in priorities for the team. Having been “launched as Scuderia Toro Rosso and charged with bringing future champions to the grid,” the team declared it is “now reborn with an expanded mission to battle for the sport’s biggest prizes.”

Visa Cash App Formula One Team logo, 2024
Report: AlphaTauri becomes Visa Cash App RB Formula One Team for 2024
This is a significant change for a team which previously embarked upon season after season with Tost declaring this would be the year they finally finished inside the top five, which they never once achieved as Toro Rosso, or after they became AlphaTauri in 2020.

That’s not to say they didn’t enjoy some success. Vettel made the team race-winners before the senior squad took its first victory, wielding what was largely the same chassis as Red Bull’s, back in 2008 when teams were permitted to do so. Pierre Gasly added a second win, scored, like Vettel at Monza, when the cards fell his way in 2020.

But consistent success was always going to elude this team as long as it was turning over drivers at the rate of one every year or two. Or, as in the case of Nyck de Vries last year, less than half a season.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Following its rebranding, Red Bull has made it clear it has higher expectations for its second team. “The new identity is not simply a name change,” said Red Bull Technology’s chief marketing officer Oliver Hughes, “it’s the start of a thrilling new journey designed to take the team to new levels of competitiveness.”

Cash App branding on Max Verstappen's Red Bull, 2021
Comment: Does ‘Visa Cash App RB’ signal a depressing new trend in F1 team names?
This may sound like so much marketing bluster, but it is consistent with other changes already in place. Tost has headed off into retirement, leaving the team in the hands of recently appointed CEO Peter Bayer and new team principal Laurent Mekies, a star signing from Italian rivals Ferrari.

On the driving side, the team goes into the season with by far the most experienced line-up it has had under Red Bull’s ownership. Yuki Tsunoda becomes the first driver to begin a fourth consecutive season at the team, while Ricciardo will rack up his 250th start this year and is an eight-time grand prix winner.

The team is also pursuing much closer co-operation with Red Bull Technology over its car design. This began last year, and the effect it had on the team’s performance was noticeable through the final races. Tsunoda started the season finale sixth on the grid and Ricciardo lined up fourth – splitting the Red Bulls – three races earlier.

The opportunities available to the team under the rules are no longer as great as they were for Racing Point four years ago when they produced their RP20, a close facsimile of the previous year’s world championship-winning Mercedes. However the success of the ‘pink Mercedes’, which gave them their first win late in that season, provides a guide to what might be expected of Red Bull’s second team in 2024: The technical regulations are largely stable, they use the same power unit and gearbox as Red Bull as well as other key parts, and they were already moving forwards as last season came to an end, even introducing a technical update at the final round in Abu Dhabi.

For any team, challenging Red Bull for victories this year will be a stretch: The reigning champions won all bar one of last year’s 22 grands prix. But ‘Visa Cash App RB’ – which will surely be widely referred to as ‘RB’ – has the unique advantage of sharing many key elements with Red Bull. How far ‘RB’ can go towards their new goal of being title contenders will be one of the fascinating questions of the upcoming season.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

18 comments on ““Not just a name change”: Red Bull wants its second team to be title contenders”

  1. Where is Keith’s end of season car/team performance article????

  2. I guess it’s about how much of a CrashApp RB19 they can get away with. Drivers should know what they’re doing, with all those Grands Prix under their belt.

  3. Yep, like clockwork. They’ve been saying this for years and years. Long before the AlphaTauri rebrand. I could have sworn it was happening pre-Honda even. They definitely said it at the time of the Honda switch which made it all the more hilarious when Tost admitted just recently that they completely sacrificed their performance that year for the benefit of the primary team.

    It’s a logical response to the line of Brown’s allegations. The more they get accused of running 2 teams to the benefit of their primary team, the more essential it becomes to claim the second team is its own entity and running its own program. Not helped by Horner speaking for their drivers, or Marko literally giving them orders publicly.

    The only thing I find fascinating is how long they have been (and will be) able to keep it up. I wonder what political machinations are in play for Ferrari, Merc and Renault not to pursue the matter. The advantage is so obvious.

    1. Also, the argument of biggest importance is, what if they were successful in this supposed endeavour of their B team rising to the top. If Red Bull(+RB) were to occupy all 3 podium spots regularly + 1, isn’t that the outcome that gets rallied against whenever 3 or 4 car teams are mentioned?

      Surely that would signify the end of the arrangement, just as Australia playing Australia A in the cricket world cup finals did in the early 90’s. The issue there was the same as it is here. When you invest so much that you can field 2 teams better than anyone else. That’s a problem I’m sure Red Bull don’t even truly, genuinely want.

      1. If Red Bull(+RB) were to occupy all 3 podium spots regularly + 1

        I didn’t think as far ahead as you have, Tristan. I was just thinking how boring it would be to have both teams beating the rest of the field. You make some very good points there.

      2. In the Beyond The Grid podcast with Franz Tost, he basically admitted that Vettel’s first win for Toro Rosso was double-edged. It was a great outcome for the team, but it also prompted rule changes to come into play the following year, with the “listed parts” rules.. designed to curb teams that leveraged R&D from bigger teams.

        If Alpha Tauri inherit the 2023 Red Bull car (or utilise significant parts of it), the year you’re talking about could be as soon as 2024.

      3. Very good points indeed.

      4. Good old Australia A, because we weren’t confident in the other competition. Of course, being good Australians everyone was barracking for the underdog, which resulted in the completely unacceptable situation of the primary team being booed.
        That was enough to get the concept canned, although it did help a number of the “A” players improve their game and get ready for the big time.

    2. Tost admitted just recently that they completely sacrificed their performance that year for the benefit of the primary team.

      Exactly, their a self-admitted test team allowed to participate in F1 events.

      It’s tolerated so long as they’re irrelevant. They seek to change this at their own peril.

      1. They haven’t been irrelevant though. RB wouldn’t have won the title two years ago if they hadn’t had AT helping on track during the season and testing engines for them a couple years prior.

  4. Hopefully this means they don’t kick their drivers to the curb as much

  5. I’m wondering if this is a sign that the team will be put on the market in the coming years.

    It no longer seems to operate as RBR’s feeder team (since they already have their star driver for the long term, and failing that can have their pick of pretty much any other driver on/off the grid).
    And it appears that it doesn’t bring enough value to Red Bull in promoting its other businesses (such as its fashion brand).
    Meanwhile team valuations go up.

    Consolidating resources by working closer with RBR, reducing operational costs; while changing the team name to effectively “Your Brand Here” (with the new title sponsor bringing in extra revenue), which can be shown to potential buyers.

    If results improve, the team will be seen as moving up, rather than being towards the back. That will also increase the perceived valuation.
    Just in time as the new regs and concorde agreement approaches.

    1. Maybe they’re planning to load it off to Honda? Could be worse things than that happening.

      1. Possibly. Though I doubt Honda, given they’ll be partnered with Aston Martin.
        And I’m sure Red Bull would prefer the buyer keep the team partnered with RedBull Powertrains.

  6. They haven’t been irrelevant though. RB wouldn’t have won the title two years ago if they hadn’t had AT helping on track during the season and testing engines for them a couple years prior.

    1. They didn’t win the title… only Max did.

      Also, the engine testing is completely irrelevant to 2021. The engine swap happened way before that year. And yes, they did use their 2nd team to test it first before putting into their 1st team’s car, but that was only so their main team doesn’t get screwed that year if the engine was bad. All that did was delay Honda being introduced into their main team by 1 year. If they didn’t have a 2nd team, they would have had no choice but to stick the engine directly into their main car.

      That would have changed nothing for 2021 as it happened long before it.

      1. I see your point but it still would have had an effect. It would have meant redbull having only 1 season to sort the engine out before 2021. Potentially meaning they wouldnt have had as much resources for the 2021 car. Also this is 2020 so less races and a disrupted compacted season.
        Unless you mean redbull taking the honda for 2019. Less problematic but it’s unknown how this may have had a trickle down affect on them going into 2020 and then 2021.

        Either way the point is that they benefited from having the second team do the work for them.

  7. I’m going to revert to calling them Toro Rosso.

Comments are closed.