Sporting Director Jonathan Wheatley was one of the team's early appointments, joining from Renault in 2006. A fixture on the pitwall ever since, Jonathan has played a huge role in the team's development and successes.
Jonathan started his F1 career at Benetton as a junior mechanic in the early 1990s and enjoyed early successes when the team had Michael Schumacher at the wheel. He rose through the ranks to become Race Team Chief Mechanic in 2001. He chose to leave Enstone at the height of their success with Fernando Alonso, lured by the challenge of helping a new team climb the F1 ladder.
"It was a difficult decision, and I did sweat it for a while," he says. “Red Bull had a bit of a reputation as a party team and I wanted to know if they were serious as well. It turns out they were very serious! They offered me a wonderful opportunity to build a race team I would want to work in. It took a while – because it takes time to create an environment in which people can thrive – but I'm very proud of what we've achieved."
When pressed to recall favourite events during his quarter-century in F1, Jonathan is torn between the successes of his youth and more modern memories.
"I've been really fortunate being involved with winning championships as a mechanic, as a chief mechanic and now as a team manager. Of all of those I think I'd have to choose the first championship here at Red Bull as the one which really stands above the others. We won it in typical Red Bull style with everything going on: cars crashing, engine failures, this, that and everything else. We seemed to do it the hard way – but the resilience in the team stood up. That made me proud. There was so much to soak up, so much excitement and commotion. It really was an extraordinary achievement for the team."
Among the great many jobs that fall under the aegis of the sporting director, pitstop performance is the one which has the most resonance for racing fans. With Jonathan’s guidance, the Red Bull Racing pit crew have become the benchmark for Formula One. They were the first crew to break the two-second barrier for completing a pitstop and, beyond the headline times, have raised the bar for consistency across a whole season. Under Jonathan’s tutelage, in 2018, they won the prestigious DHL Fastest Pitstop Award, presented to the team that consistently has the best pitstop performance across the season.
“I’m tremendously proud of this team and I love every second of working here,” says Jonathan. “We’ve created an inclusive environment where everyone is valued. We really enjoy our racing. You can see it in the guys in the garage. It’s not just a cliché.”