Red Bull has applied to itself that ruthless method of elimination that defines the Junior Team since the launch of this pilot training program in 2001. The replacement of Alex Albon by Checo Pérez with a view to the World Championship that will begin filming this Sunday in Bahrain, carries an implicit symbolic burden to take into account given that none of the the two corridors of the energetic team comes from the quarry of the brand. That is something that had not happened since 2007, when Mark Webber, who was signed that same year from Williams, and David Coulthard, who had arrived in 2005 after nine seasons at McLaren, met in the same garage.
For more efforts and marketing that Red Bull has deployed to make Max Verstappen his own, the truth is that the Dutchman was incorporated in August 2014 by check, and with the promise of making him debut in Formula 1 immediately (2015) with Toro Rosso, the second structure of the Austrian company.
The couple they form Mad max and Pérez is one of the most powerful of 2021, but at the same time she questions the raison d’être of the Junior Team and its selection criteria. Above all, if we consider that a quarter of the current grid came from there.
A total of 85 pilots have passed through this launch pad. The first consignment brought together seven promises in 2001, including a 13-year-old German blond with a rogue face. Sebastian Vettel is the only champion who has so far given the Red Bull nursery, even if the brand-new addition of Aston Martin remained, until his entry into Toro Rosso (2008), under the BMW umbrella. Vettel’s target, however, does not silence the cruel layoffs that have accumulated over the past two decades and that have become a class mark of the house. Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi were left without seats or options in December 2011, as had previously happened with Scott Speed (2007) and Sébastian Bourdais (2009). “They hurt me unnecessarily,” recalls the Barcelona, now resurrected as a DJ. Others, such as Daniil Kvyat or Pierre Gasly, were demoted to the second team, considering that their performance did not match that of the car they were driving.
Apart from Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Yuki Tsunoda and Gasly (Toro Rosso) will form on the Bahrain starting grid. Like the four-time Heppenheim champion, who joined Ferrari in 2015, Ricciardo also opted for a change of scene at the end of 2018, considering that the Red Bull leadership was too devoted to Verstappen. The Australian agreed to sign for Renault before going to McLaren, with which he will debut now. The example of Sainz casts even more doubts about the real capacity of Helmut Marko, promoter of the Junior Team and main sports advisor to Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of the entire empire, to detect talent and gauge the evolution of the kids in his charge. The progression of the Madrilenian since he debuted in 2015 has been tremendous, to the point of having caught the attention of Ferrari, which has incorporated him to replace Vettel to champion, along with Charles Leclerc, his attempt to reconquer. The Doctor Marko released Sainz from his contract in a show of generosity that is not abundant in the paddock. And much less in Red Bull, also famous for the abusive clauses signed by those who run under its umbrella.
But the testimony that fully validates the previous diagnosis is that of Pérez himself. “The Junior Team In 2006 he invited me to do a training session. I had a problem with the car seat, my knees were hitting the steering wheel and I couldn’t turn. After the first round of laps, I thought that when I returned [al taller] they were going to fix it. But they didn’t give me another chance, they kicked me, “said the one from Jalisco last week, in the podcast championship official. Some 15 years after that, the Mexican has a whole season to display that skill that Helmut Marko, promoter of the Junior Team, could not see. And he will do it in a car that, if we look at the tests this winter, is in a position to measure up to the Mercedes short.
While it is true that Checo’s arrival at Red Bull can be perfectly interpreted as the failure of the Red BullAt the same time it also shows that the only thing that matters to the team is winning.