Daniel Ricciardo’s victory at Spa-Francorchamps was a great way to start the second half of 2014 but in addition to a personal milestone for Dan, it also represented a rather larger milestone for the team: our 50th victory in Formula One.
We took our first victory at the Shanghai International Circuit in 2009. Seb led Mark Webber home as we kicked off with a one-two finish. It was the first of six victories that season, with the RB5 propelling Seb to second in the Drivers' Championship and the team to second in the Constructors'. After China, wins followed in Britain, Germany, Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. The highlight of those five was Mark's first F1 win, which came at the Nürburgring, though finishing the year with another one-two at Yas Island (our fourth of the season) ran it pretty close – the end-of-season party is still talked about in tones of hushed awe by those that were there, and with envy by those that weren't.
2010 goes down as Seb's year but really it wasn't until the very end. He didn't lead the Drivers' Championship at any point during the season until the time where it mattered, crossing the finishing line at the final race to take a fifth victory of the year after the season went to the wire with four drivers in contention at the final race. In total the RB6 won nine times. A faulty spark plug cost Seb victory at the season-opener in Bahrain but he got back to winning ways at round three in Malaysia before adding further wins in Valencia (Grand Prix of Europe), Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Mark, meanwhile, wasn't hanging around either with victory in Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary. We claimed the Constructors' title in Brazil leaving the way clear for the drivers to duke it out at the final round. Mark's win in Monaco was pretty special but for sheer drama it's hard to look beyond Yas. Talk to the guys in the garage and there are plenty who will say the RB6 was the best car we ever made...
...but the RB7 has it's fans too. In 2011 it claimed an even dozen victories, 11 of which went to Sebastian as he claimed back-to-back titles. Seb's victories that year came with the season-opener in Australia, followed by Malaysia, Turkey, Spain, Monaco, Valencia, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Korea and India, with Mark putting the cherry on top with victory in Brazil to end the season on a high note. There was plenty to remember but Seb's win at the Korea International Circuit, which brought us a second Constructors' World Championship, was pretty special, coming as it did a week after he claimed the Drivers' title in Japan. Though the less said about his post-race karaoke performance the better.
The RB8 added seven more victories and two more titles – but this was a season that pushed everyone to the very limit. In a crazy start to the year which saw seven different drivers win the first seven races it was clear 2012 wasn't going to be a season dominated by anybody – but we dug deep and came out on top. Seb won in Bahrain and followed that with victories in Singapore, Japan, Korea and India. Mark chipped in with marquee wins at Monaco and Silverstone. We got over the line in the Constructors' Championship at the US Grand Prix at the newly-opened Circuit of the Americas in Austin – but the race everybody was waiting for was the title fight at Interlagos seven days later when Seb and Fernando Alonso went head-to-head for the Drivers' crown. It might not be the most dramatic grand prix in the history of F1 – but it'll appear in anybody's top five. Fernando finished second, Seb snatched the title by the narrowest of margins, crossing the line sixth. But in treacherous weather and having been dead last and damaged at the end of lap one, it really felt like another win.
2013 was rather more serene, both titles being secured in India with three races to spare – but it didn't look like being that way at the mid-season break. The RB9 won only four of the ten races before August, courtesy of Seb making the top step in Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada and Germany. After the break, however, it was Seb all the way, nine consecutive victories – a new record – came in Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Korea, Japan, India, Abu Dhabi, the US and Brazil, taking his and the team's season tally to 13.
And that brings us up to 2014. It's proving a tough year for Infiniti Red Bull Racing but the team still knows how to bring the car home if it gets its nose in front. Daniel has stepped into the seat vacated by Mark and looked like he's been here for years. His debut F1 victory came in Canada and he added a second for the RB10, in Hungary just before the break. Those two were filled with drama, whereas in Belgium this week he left the drama to others and simply drove away from the pack. It was a very nice way to bring up 50. It's a great achievement but there's plenty more space in the trophy cabinet and hopefully we'll get to report on 100 race wins at some point before the Internet is something pumped directly into people's brains.
– one other thing to mention before signing-off. While victory in Spa was our 50th win, for Adrian it was win number 150. Adrian spent a decade learning his trade with F1 teams such as Fittipaldi, Hass Lola (FORCE) and March, as well as a highly successful stint designing for CART before hitting the big time with Williams, finding more success at McLaren and then taking a gamble to join the fledging Red Bull Racing outfit in 2006. It's worked out pretty well for all concerned!