- Red Bull’s Junior Team
- The Formative Years
- The Vettel Era
- New Rules, New Challenges
- Red Bull Dominance
- Hybrid Power
Red Bull’s Junior Team
The origins of Red Bull’s junior team go back to Italian team Minardi. Minardi had been in Formula One since 1985, starting 340 Grands Prix and accumulating 38 points. Dietrich Mateshitz’s purchase of Minardi in 2005 followed Red Bull’s expansion into Formula One a year prior.
From 2005 on, Minardi became known as Scuderia Toro Rosso or team Red Bull in Italian. In keeping with Red Bull’s marketing philosophy, Scuderia Toro Rosso rebranded to AlphaTauri for the 2020 season.
A great deal of talent has passed through the Faenza based team’s doors. After all, the team’s philosophy is to develop the skills of young drivers from the Red Bull development programme. With that said, the team has enjoyed varying degrees of success in its own right.
The Formative Years
The team’s debut campaign in 2006 saw ex-Red Bull driver Vitantonio Liuzzi teamed alongside Red Bull Driver search’s Scott Speed. Their chassis the STR1 was considered somewhat controversial. Debate arose from the use of a modified RB1 chassis used by Red Bull Racing the previous year.
Another area of contention was with the team’s engine choice. This saw the STR1 powered by a rev limited Cosworth V10 while other competitors were required to use smaller 2.4 Litre V8s. The 2006 season saw the team amass a single point.
2007 saw STR2 equipped with the Ferrari V8 that would power the Faenza team till 2013. Liuzzi and Speed were retained for what would be another unsatisfactory season. The campaign was highlighted by crashes and reliability issues. Turbulence continued off track with the controversial replacement of Scott Speed in favour of Sebastian Vettel.
The Vettel Era
The arrival of Sebastian Vettel saw a rise to prominence for the Faenza outfit. Entering the fray mid-season, Vettel managed to score a team-best 4th at the Chinese Grand Prix. The following season saw Vettel have to better his new teammate Sebastian Bourdais.
The team became regular points scorers with a shock pole and first win at Monza. Toro Rosso finished 6th in the constructor’s championship that year scoring 39 points. 35 of those points were scored by Vettel, more than Red Bull had attained. His promotion to Red Bull was inevitable and with that Toro Rosso failed to score more than 35 points in the 2009 and 2010 seasons combined.
New Rules, New Challenges
Sebastian Vettel’s departure to Red Bull marked a turning point for the senior team. The same can’t be said for the Faenza team. Bourdais was soon replaced due to poor performance, opening the door for Jaime Alguersuari. This would see the young driver partner Sebastien Buemi till the end of the 2011 season. This was a stagnant period for the team finishing last in 2009 and only above the 3 new teams in 2010. 2011 progressed with 8th place in the constructors.
During these years F1 saw new rules, new teams and a new point scoring system. With this Red Bull’s junior team amassed 41 points for 2011 but still a largely unsatisfying season.
Red Bull Dominance
Red Bull have been fierce competitors since their 2009 season.
2010-2013 can only be described as Red Bull dominance.
With this, the senior team retained their driver lineup throughout. For the junior team, this meant no driver progression till Mark Webber’s retirement at the end of the 2013 season.
With no drivers promoted, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne joined Franz Tost’s team for 2012. After a year short of pace, both drivers remained with the team through to 2013. Vergne managed 6th place in Canada but it was Daniel Ricciardo that scored more regularly throughout the season.
Ricciardo was eventually given Webber’s vacant seat while Vergne accompanied Daniil Kvyat for 2014.
The Hybrid era came in 2014 and that meant new badges on Faenza’s engine. The Ferrari power plant was replaced by a Renault power unit.
Each year with Renault saw the team finish 7th in the constructor’s championship. Across 2014-2015 the team averaged 48.5 points, a return to regular point-scoring form.
Ferrari once again provided engines for the 2016 season before reverting to a rebranded Renault power unit for 2017 scoring 63 and 53 points respectively.
This period in the team’s history is perhaps best known for the amount of talent that passed through the team’s doors. Initially, Kvyat was promoted to replace Vettel. Following an impressive year from Max Verstappen, Kvyat was demoted in favour of the Dutchman. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz Jr, Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly each had their turn in the car.
Honda provided new engines for 2018 following the fallout from the Mclaren-Honda relationship. Though for Toro Rosso, the Honda power unit proved impressively pacey. Reliability issues featured heavily but Pierre Gasly did attain good finishes with a 4th in Bahrain and 4 more point-scoring finishes throughout the year.
Brendon Hartley managed less luck and parted ways at the end of the season as the team finished 7th in the constructor’s championship
The team’s final year as Toro Rosso saw 6th place in the constructor’s championship and an amassing of 85 points. Rookie Alex Albon briefly raced for the Faenza outfit before replacing Pierre Gasly at Red Bull. Fortunes changed for the Frenchman as Gasly attained a podium at Interlagos and Kvyat a podium at a hectic German Grand Prix. It would be another successful 6th place in the constructors for 2019.
The striking blue and red car didn’t appear for the 2020 season. Instead, the new look Faenza team arrived at the Austrian GP in blue and white. Toro Rosso had rebranded to AlphaTauri to promote the eponymous fashion brand. 2020 proved a successful year for the team with consistent finishes in the points. It was a return to form for Pierre Gasly who managed a win at Monza.
For 2021 AlphaTauri have contracted rookie Yuki Tsunoda alongside Pierre Gasly. Gasly’s performances throughout 2021 have proven the pace of the AlphaTauri car on both Saturdays and Sundays with Tsunoda also scoring points. AlphaTauri remains the Red Bull junior team but given the team’s recent performances they have established themselves as dangerous midfield competitors.