Red Bull Team USA

Italian GP 2005

Italian GP 2005 

 © The Cahier Archive

Once upon a time there was a man in Formula 1 called Tom Walkinshaw, who came up with the idea of turning his struggling Arrows F1 team into a star-spangled banner for Red Bull. The Scotsman was turned on by the idea of keeping his team alive because he could see the colour of the Red Bull dollars flowing into the Sauber team and had worked out that the United States of America was a major target market for the Austrian drinks company.

That was back in 2001 and for almost a year Walkinshaw tried hard to convince everyone that he was the man for the job. Alas (for Tom) Red Bull Team USA never took off although Red Bull did jump into an alliance with Walkinshaw ally Eddie Cheever to run a team in the Indy Racing League.

Arrows disappeared from lack of cash in 2002 and the idea dropped off the F1 radar screen. Red Bull retained the ambition to buy an F1 team and that happened last autumn when Ford needed a buyer for Jaguar Racing and Red Bull stepped up to the plate.

Now it seems that the company may be considering a secondary purchase in F1. At least that is the word on the street in the Monza paddock. The story is that Red Bull is going to snap up the Minardi team and turn it into a Red Bull USA team in order to accommodate more of the drivers that the company is sponsoring in the junior formulae. Doubling the number of cars would not double the budget, particularly when one team is allowed to sell chassis to another. Having lots of cars is not a problem for Red Bull, which is happily sponsoring six cars in GP2, but promoting so many drivers means that there must be something for them to do later and it is a waste of energy to take the drivers up to F1 level and then hope they will make it.

Such a move could be bad news for Cheever because the team has had very limited success in the IRL and the contract is up for renewal for next year. It might however help to broaden US interest in F1 as we could end up seeing a driver like AJ Allmendinger (who is backed by Red Bull) being transferred from Champ Cars to F1.

The most interesting thing, however, is whether or not the deal will go ahead with Minardi or whether (perhaps) it might be done with Jordan instead. There is a political level to all of this as well because a Red Bull second team would be another team for Bernie Ecclestone's camp in the ongoing battle over the future of F1 and Stoddart, who is firmly in the manufacturer camp, is currently inundated with offers to buy his team.

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