Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing to Part Ways After 2014 Formula 1 Season

Photo Credit: Infiniti

Numerous Formula 1 seasons have resulted in one team or even one driver appears to own the podium. Due to the competitive nature of the sport, it is less frequent when a team and driver hit on a victory stride that carries through for four seasons. From 2010 to 2013, the Formula 1 world witnessed a great dynasty when young German driver Sebastian Vettel and the fairly young Red Bull Racing team reached a combined zenith in the sport. Winning 34 of his 39 career races in those four years and becoming the only driver ever to win four-consecutive World Drivers’ Championships during that time, Vettel was a feared competitor who wheeled a Renault-powered blue racing machine with Red Bull livery.

This season, the wheels have appeared to have fallen off what had been a roll in Formula 1. Winless this season, Vettel is on the verge of his first full Formula 1 season without a grand prix victory. While Vettel’s newly acquired teammate Daniel Ricciardo scoring three wins with his Red Bull-Renault in 2014, the team has so far been eclipsed by the dominant Mercedes AMG organization. Bracing to lose the #1 on his race car after this season, Sebastian Vettel has now announced his Red Bull-Renault will also lose its driver after 2014.

For what continues to be regarded as a shocking development, media in the Suzuka garage for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix were taken aback by breaking news that the four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel will leave his ride after six seasons. While he was regularly in the cockpit of a race car for the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team since 2009, much of his driving career has involved the energy drink company’s support. Every full season Vettel has spent in Formula 1 has been part of Red Bull Racing or with their sister team Toro Rosso in which he started with in 2008. Publishing a release on his website, Sebastian Vettel published a brief thanked Red Bull for 15 years of fostering his career to the point of becoming one of the most renowned race car drivers in the world. “Now I have decided to take the next step in my career but first I would like to express once again big thanks to Dietrich Mateschitz, Dr Helmut Marko, Christian Horner, the whole Red Bull Family, Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso.” said Vettel in his Saturday statement.

Photo credit: Infiniti

On the Red Bull Racing team website, Team Principal Christian Horner responded to the news implying Sebastian Vettel had only formally informed him of this 2015 career direction the night before the announcement. Prior to that conversation, Horner suggested that he might have known the move was happening for some time. “I know him well on and off track and you can see he's had a lot on his mind recently; inevitably you don't take a decision like this lightly, but it was last night that he sat down with us and told us for the first time.” the Red Bull Racing Team Principal replied in his statement. A main fixture of the Red Bull Racing team, Sebastian Vettel also represented luxury car maker Infiniti as the brand's Director of Performance. A team sponsor of Red Bull Racing and corporately affiliated with engine supplier Renault, Infiniti's support of Vettel will likely conclude also at the end of the this year.

Shortly after the news of Vettel’s departure, Red Bull Racing quickly announced their 2015 driver line-up. Daniel Ricciardo, who has impressed with his first year with the team, will be joined by Russian Daniil Kvyat. A 2014 rookie driver competing with Scuderia Toro Rosso (operating as a satellite driver development organization for Red Bull Racing) will travel along the same path as Vettel and Ricciardo to the major team.

Vettel’s four championships were coupled with the Red Bull Racing team celebrated a constructors’ title after each season. Chasing their fourth-straight titles heading into the Japanese Grand Prix in 2013, such news of a split between the team and driver occurring at that same event just one year later would have been near unbelievable. However, just as the object of being competitive in Formula 1 is rapidly moving forward, Sebastian Vettel’s abrupt yet amicable parting from Red Bull Racing following the 2014 season is obviously about finding a new, faster line for the future. Having not announced his 2015 plans officially, rumours have strongly pinned the German as destined for Ferrari. Though finding little success with his 2014 Red Bull-Renault, it’s hard to presently figure out if Vettel would be found a winning edge with the Italian Formula 1 team. Ferrari is currently enduring a winless season with former world champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. If Sebastian Vettel is seated in a Ferrari next season, the situation will somewhat mirror his hero Michael Schumacher’s arrival at the team in 1996.

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