The politics of Red Bull

Red Bull has been a big name in Formula 1 circles for 10 years now but one aim it has always had was to bring a top level American driver into the sport, to help its invasion of the United States drinks markets and specifically the youth market. To this end Red Bull established its F1 Driver search in 2003 and immediately put several young drivers into European racing to see how they did. Scott Speed was the man who rose to the surface and this year has been showing very well in GP2, even if he has not yet won a race. Speed wants to be in F1 and Red Bull wants him to be there but the problem for the team is that it has David Coulthard, Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi and so does not have room for everybody. The joy of being a test driver in F1 lasts only for a certain period of time and then young drivers begin to get restless. We have seen that from Speed in recent months and Liuzzi too is known to be frustrated in his current testing role, particularly as many feel that he is a much better long-term bet than Klien.

David Coulthard is already confirmed for 2006 and Red Bull must now decide who is in the second car. It is unlikely to be able to have a half-hearted switchabout programme as it has this year as this has been no good for either Klien or Liuzzi and adding Speed to the equation is not really going to matters. Thus we would expect to see two definitive racing drivers and the other two as test drivers. If Liuzzi gets a test drive, however, he would probably be able to depart the team as he is thought to have a racing deal for 2006. However Red Bull might try to offload its youngsters on other teams and one can see that Klien and Speed might be quite an attractive duo to BMW Sauber, even if in the longer term the Germans want to develop their own stars. It may even be that Red Bull might be willing to be a BMW sponsor in order to achieve this. Buying drives elsewhere is not such a great idea because jobs at the back of the grid can kill the career of a young driver.

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