Where’s Red Bull in 2009?

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.GP2 Series

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.

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4 Responses to Where’s Red Bull in 2009?

  1. Mekola says:

    Maybe having three cars sponsored in Formula 2 could have relationship with no sponsoring in GP2???

    • gp2 insider says:

      Maybe, but again, that only adds up to €900k tops… a low figure for a Red Bull involvement in GP2.

  2. Aki Järvinen says:

    I spoke to Mika Mäki personally when he quit GP2 Asia last winter. According to him, GP2 Asia didn’t fit Red Bull’s marketing intentions (I think because of no races in Japan). But what about the Main Series? Maybe they just didn’t want to rush anybody to GP2 since they already had taken Buemi to F1 recently.

    • gp2 insider says:

      Hi Aki,

      Interesting comment! I agree with Mika Maki’s opinion on GP2 Asia. Regarding the Main Series, I think it is simply a step back to “regroup” and focus on smaller categories. Also, they probably had less cash available and wanted to split the budget into smaller bits, thus their involvement in F2 – in my opinion a huge waste of money from where no serious talent will emerge.

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