Ecclestone: Dominant Red Bull won’t get tired, leave F1

1 Comment

Four years into Red Bull’s reign of dominance in Formula One, and it’s still pretty amazing that an energy drink company, of all things, has come in and created a team capable of beating the likes of Ferrari and McLaren.

Their latest triumph was a thorough one as well, with both team and driver Sebastian Vettel claiming their fourth consecutive championships in the constructors’ and drivers’ categories respectively with three races to go in the 2013 season.

It’s a remarkable achievement to win one championship, but what Red Bull’s done is even more impressive. However, when you’ve continually shown yourselves to be at the top of your game, you can wind up pondering over new challenges to conquer.

So, would Red Bull one day take a look around F1, say ‘we’ve done all we can here’, and move out? For his part, F1 kingpin Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t think so.

In comments to Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, the British billionaire cites the drive of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, the bounty that the team’s received thanks to its current run of glory, and the benefits of doing business in F1 as reasons why he’s not counting on an exodus anytime soon.

“Dietrich Mateschitz is so competitive, he loves racing, he likes when his car wins,” Ecclestone explained. “The successes of recent years also mean his team has earned much more than some of the others.

“Not only that, where else is he going to find as good a platform to advertise his brand?”

F1 is a nice platform indeed, but considering Red Bull’s ubiquitous stature in the landscapes of both sports and pop culture, it’s not the only one that the beverage giant has.

Still, you figure Ecclestone’s right to think Red Bull won’t leave F1 any time soon. The group enjoys worldwide exposure every weekend during the season, boasts one of the greatest drivers to ever race in F1 in Vettel, and has even managed to revive the Austrian Grand Prix for this coming season at its Red Bull Ring track.

Nothing lasts forever, of course. But right now, Red Bull’s presence in the sport appears ready to continue for a while.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.