OUR 10 IN A 1000

Formula One celebrates its 1000th grand prix this weekend. It is a momentous event – even for a team of our comparatively recent vintage...

In fact, with the number of races steadily increasing year-on-year, we’ve been around for longer than people would credit: this is our 269th race, putting us 12th on the all-time list of F1 participants. It’s been a momentous ride: here’s our list of ten races that were truly memorable. 


The Team joined the Formula One circus in 2005, recruiting David Coulthard from McLaren to spearhead its bid for grand prix glory, as well as giving rookies Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi a shot at the big time with the drivers each getting a spell at the wheel of the RB1 during the season. And there was almost a fairytale debut for the Team in Melbourne when DC took his RB1 from fifth on the grid to the cusp of the podium. Fourth place behind form team Renault, allied to Klien scoring two points on his debut with seventh place, was a bright start. 


There was frustration for the Team in qualifying in Monaco the following year as DC got the worst of the traffic during the busy session and ended up in P9. Disappointment turned to delight on Sunday as the Scot edged his way forward with tenacious determination. In fourth in the closing stages he then profited from a late hydraulic failure for Toyota’s Jarno Trulli. With the Team partnering with the then newly released Superman Returns movie, DC took to the podium in full Man of Steel regalia, including cape. It wasn’t edifying by any stretch it was undoubtedly a super result. 


The Team’s first win was a truly knife-edge affair. On Saturday, Sebastian Vettel's RB5 developed a driveshaft problem that restricted him to a single lap in each segment of qualifying. The new Red Bull Racing recruit made the most of every one of them, however, and put in a spectacular Q3 lap to secure the Team’s first pole position. On Sunday, torrential rain meant the first eight laps of the race were run behind the Safety Car. Sebastian took it all in his stride, though, and despite almost being taken out of the race by Sébastien Buemi in a later SC period the German strode to an incredible first win for the Team. The weekend was made all the more sweet by Mark Webber backing Vettel up in P2 to score a brilliant first 1-2 for the team.


Mark Webber had to give best to his young team-mate in China and then again in Britain but the Australian’s moment in the sun finally arrived at Vettel’s home race the German Grand Prix, at the Nürburgring. On Saturday Mark took pole position, edging Fernando Alonso by four hundredths of a second but on Sunday it looked like all being for nought as off the line he was unsighted and collided with Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello. The error earned Mark a penalty and his race looked to be done. Mark hadn’t read the script, however, and displaying blistering pace fought back to the lead and a brilliant, especially in light of the fact that the Aussie was still recovering from a serious injury sustained in a cycling accident the previous winter.


A marathon, rain-disrupted qualifying might have seen then Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg hit the headlines with his maiden pole position but Sunday’s race was all about Red Bull Racing. With the Team now the form squad on the grid, Sebastian drove beautifully to score our eighth win of the season. With Mark finishing four seconds behind in P2 the Team’s fourth 1-2 finish of the year was enough to secure our first Constructor’s Championship title. 


Seb’s win in Brazil left him third in the Drivers’ Championship, 15 points behind leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. In Abu Dhabi, Mark, just eight points behind Alonso heading into the weekend, was seen as a greater threat in the race. Sebastian took a brilliant pole on Saturday and set the pace in the race. Ferrari still focused on Mark rather than the young star and when the Aussie pitted, they covered the stop by bringing Alonso in too. It was a crucial mistake and Sebastian simply drove off into the distance to become F1’s youngest champion. 


Chasing a third consecutive drivers’ title, Sebastian Vettel went to the final round of 2012 with a 13-point advantage over Fernando Alonso. Winning in Brazil would be perfect; finishing ahead of Alonso would be nice but finishing just behind Alonso would be acceptable as well. What wasn’t in the script was being left pointing the wrong way, with a nasty-looking hole in the sidepod, a badly-dented exhaust and the field disappearing into the distance on lap one. It was also raining. 

Sebastian didn’t panic. He calmly spun the car back around and set off in pursuit of the pack. The Team on the wall took pictures of the damage when he came past, and fed him weather updates. The car held together, Seb made up the ground, and at the flag had worked his way up to sixth: Championship secured by a margin of three points. The cheering on the wall was more relief than joy. That was about as close as it gets. The exhaust, incidentally, later took pride of place in chief engineering officer Rob Marshall’s office. 


The record books will show that Red Bull Racing won the 2013 F1 season by an impressive margin. What they won’t show is quite how tight the season was until the mid-season break with victories for Lotus, Mercedes, Ferrari and ourselves. While we led both championships at that point, the expectation when F1 went on its holidays, was that battle would recommence in Belgium. 

Then, everything changed. Sebastian Vettel won a record-breaking nine consecutive grands prix, and the Team took the final eight pole positions of the season. It was particularly nice to finish the year with a 1-2. Mark signed-off from F1 with a podium finish and fastest lap, and we signed-off the V8 era on the highest of highs.  


Preparation is perhaps over-rated. Max Verstappen joined Red Bull Racing a few days before the Spanish Grand Prix. With very little time to plan, Max simply jumped into the RB12, learnt its characteristics and won on his debut. Max, in what has become signature Max style, low-balled it afterwards saying he did OK and got lucky with the Mercedes falling over each other – but the fact remains he took a debut grand prix win while holding off two charging Ferraris in a new car where he still didn’t know what all the buttons did. It’s difficult to imagine tougher circumstances to become a grand prix winner. 


What defines a truly great grand prix victory? Utter dominance? Dramatic tension? A battle against the odds? Daniel Ricciardo’s 2018 Monaco Grand Prix triumph managed to combine all of that – but if you watched it on TV with the sound turned down, only the former would have been apparent. Daniel started on pole, led every lap of the race and took the chequered flag a comfortable seven seconds ahead of Seb. While serene on the surface, Daniel was paddling furiously underneath: a quarter-way through the race, he lost his MGU-K, robbing him of 160hp but also causing his rear brakes to overheat to dangerous levels. On this, the most mentally-pummelling of grand prix circuits, where the driver never gets a moment’s rest, Ricciardo had to drive with pinpoint accuracy while also rapidly pushing buttons and rolling rotaries to keep his dying RB14 alive. It was a performance of epic resolve.

Of course, this sort of result was only possible at Monaco, a grand prix circuit profoundly dislocated in time, where track position is everything. If Ricciardo had a dose of luck on Sunday, it was entirely of his own making, thanks to a peerless performance over the course of the weekend in which he finished top of the timesheets in every practice session, and every qualifying session. F1 isn’t always meritocratic – but that sort of dominance deserves its rewards. The pool party that followed was truly deserved.