Where’s Red Bull in 2009?
March 26, 2009 4 Comments
Missing from the 2009 grid in the GP2 Main Series is sponsor Red Bull. This Austrian energy drink giant has been present in the category since its inception in 2005, supporting drivers such as Scott Speed, Sebastien Buemi, Neel Jani, Adrian Zaugg and Michael Ammermuller. Red Bull has also been the team sponsor for Arden since 2005, but dropped out at the end of the previous season.
So, why does a firm such as Red Bull – so committed to sports (especially extreme ones), suddenly drop out of GP2? They have successfully directly sent Speed and Buemi to F1, as well as indirectly supporting Heikki Kovalainen through its Arden sponsorship. Their track record seems reasonably positive.
Many would probably guess that this withdrawal is a result of the current financial climate. But with 2 F1 teams and a significant investment in racing at other (lower) levels, this does not sound coherent.
The only answer I can think of is Red Bull’s traditional philosophy of rotation and renovation. Many team owners will agree with me that the program’s director, Dr. Helmut Marko, likes to switch regularly, regardless of the success or track record of the team. Red Bull has been in GP2 since 2005 and possibly 2009 looked like a good time to get out.
The Red Bull Junior Team program may be undergoing some renovation itself, and is now focusing on F2 with 3 drivers (big mistake) and some emerging talent in F3 and Formula Renault. The only exception is British F3 champ Jaime Alguersuari, who has elected to go to WSR and bypass GP2. Let’s see if in 2010 drivers such as Brandon Hartley or Alguersuari could see themselves in a GP2 car with Red Bull backing.