Scuderia Toro Rosso – Italian for ‘Team Red Bull’ – have paid homage to their original guise as Minardi by naming themselves in the language of their predecessors, Italian. The ‘other’ Italian team had managed to keep themselves going for 20 years, but eventually decided late last season that enough was enough and gave in to the dollars offered by the energy drinks company. Since then, the team has been rebranded, renamed and remotivated to help its older brother, Red Bull Racing.
The idea behind the team is to simply be the training squad for both mechanics and drivers for the senior outfit. During 2005, Red Bull Racing alternated the second seat to give Vitantonio Liuzzi and Christian Klien (almost) equal time honing their racing skills and gaining valuable experience. Whilst this helped Liuzzi tremendously, this generally isn’t such a great idea as it upsets the balance within the team. It also provides no support for the lead driver and generally causes unrest. So now Red Bull have completed one full year in F1, they have decided to stick with the original four drivers they liked, but instead split them up between the two teams. Talk about having your cake and eating it!
STR will be racing Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed in 2006, and the pairing looks interesting and very fashionable in Red Bulls’ enigmatic and animated view of F1. Liuzzi fared okay in 2005, but compared to Klien he was a little out of his depth. Liuzzi strikes me as a driver who has too much on his mind and therefore unable to fully concentrate on the job at hand. His charm and personality are a breath of fresh air to the sometimes stagnant pool that is the “Old Men’s Club”, err sorry, “The Paddock”. Liuzzi is not too dissimilar to Jacques Villeneuve – he doesn’t care so much about etiquette, or how he is perceived by the media – he just wants to race. Unfortunately, I fear that this fashion-conscious heartbreaker is too busy thinking about fashion and heartbreaking. He made far too many ‘school-boy’ errors last year, and was made to look a tad unprofessional next to the PR-savvy Coulthard and the steely Austrian, Klien.
Of course, Liuzzi’s flair and buoyancy fits into Red Bulls fun-filled image quite well. It is almost like Red Bull have taken the place of Jordan when it comes to breaking the Paddock etiquette, or throwing big, loud and riotous partys. Good fun at times, but at others it can be inappropriate.
I hope the Winter break and a chance to reflect on the year gone by has helped ‘Tonio, and I hope he has been able to get some serious mileage under his belt. I fear he is going to need all the practise he can get.
Team mate to Liuzzi, driving the sister STR will be Scott Speed. Born and bred in America, placing Speed in the second car is more political than anything else. It is a well known fact that [aging] F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been trying to break America with his super-fast circus, and almost managed it with the US Grand prix held at Indy. Unfortunately for Bernie, F1, America and American fans, all the hard work came undone at last years farce of a race. The event is still on, but I’m certain ticket sales will be down and there will be a low atmosphere surrounding this years meeting. Or is my pre-judgment wrong?
Maybe with an American driver contesting in the race, more people will be coaxed into attending. Of course, they’ll only be there to support Scott, but at least they’ll be there.
Scott Speed needs to really prove himself in 2006. He wasn’t given the opportunity to race last year, so few people know of his real potential. If he is to survive in the cut-throat world of F1, he needs to show up his team mate and prove that he is perfectly capable of driving the speed-machine. Otherwise I fear that he would be out of a job before he knew it. Red Bull have plenty of drivers on their books, and without the need to push them into the Father team, it should be easy for STR to change their line up without any problems. And backed by the energy drinks giant, I’m sure contracts can be paid off just as easily as they were signed.
With the addition of STR to Red Bull’s portfolio, it seems they are here to stay in Formula One. And I see their entries to the 2006 season as a good thing. They have the cash, and they have the attitude to form a good stable team. Whether or not they can progress this to the next level and win championships is another story, but they do have a trump card which I will discuss further in Red Bull Racings’ report on 3rd March.