The Student News Site of Trinity University


The Student News Site of Trinity University


The Student News Site of Trinity University


Despite drama, Red Bull rockets to the front

Early drama hasn’t hampered on-track performance to open F1 season
Ellie Perrier

Following one of the most memorable offseasons in recent history for F1, the majority of the early-season excitement has centered around one team: Red Bull Racing. The team, which dominated in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, appears to be dominant again in 2024. However, the seemingly bullet-proof organization has begun to show its cracks. An offseason internal investigation has led to one of the most high-profile power struggles in recent history, and the dominant team has now turned into a drama that daytime soap operas would struggle to compete with.

Over the offseason, Team Principal Christian Horner was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by a Red Bull employee and put under investigation by the team. Just before the season-opening round in Bahrain, the team cleared Horner of all wrongdoing, seemingly ending the saga and allowing the team to get on with their quest for another title. However, a day after an independent investigation cleared Horner, an anonymous source leaked the alleged inappropriate texts to hundreds of journalists and news outlets. In addition to scandalizing the team, these conveniently timed leaks coincide with a power struggle in the team’s ownership after the death of longtime owner Dietrich Mateschitz in 2022.

Mateschitz, a long-time supporter of Red Bull’s motorsports endeavors, had a 49% ownership stake in the company, with Thai owner Chalerm Yoovidhya taking the other 51%. Following his death, tensions were raised between Mark Mateschitz — Dietrich’s son — and Yoovidhya, creating a civil war amongst the organization over the Christian Horner ordeal. Horner has earned the support of Yoovidhya but, in return, has come to blows with longtime advisor and one of the most influential members of Red Bull Racing’s leadership, Helmut Marko. The struggle between Marko and Horner is pivotal, as star driver Max Verstappen has publicly supported the advisor in this conflict.

The situation at the Red Bull Racing team is balancing on a razor edge, as the team has limited opportunities to get out of this incident unscathed. Should the Yoovidhya-led faction win, the alienation of Marko could lead to the team losing one of the best talents in the sport’s history. If Mateschitz prevails, losing Horner could lead to Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey — widely considered the best designer and aerodynamicist in F1 — departing the team. It’s a fragile margin for the team, but they haven’t let the drama slow them down heading into their quest for a third straight title.

In the first two rounds of the 2024 championship, things have looked business as usual for the team — and driver — that have dominated the last two seasons of competition. Verstappen crushed the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, beating his teammate to the line by over 20 seconds to earn his eighth win in a row, including the final seven races of last season. He followed it up with another win, this time by 13 seconds over Sergio Perez, during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The only contender against Verstappen is the other Red Bull driver, Perez. However, as was seen in 2023, the multi-year veteran has been relentlessly criticized for his inability to perform, suffering crashes and generally looking uncomfortable in the car despite having a world-dominating rocket ship behind him. With questions about his future in the team in the final year of his contract, Perez will have to step up and perform better than ever if he wants to keep his seat at Red Bull in 2025 and beyond.

Fans hoping for competition from outside the Red Bull garage will have very little in the way of options — at least if the first two races are anything to go off of. The contender in 2022, Ferrari, is notorious for ruining their own strategies, with other issues plaguing the Italian outfit. If the drivers don’t shoot themselves in the foot with crashes, the team will do it for them with strategy. Former juggernaut Mercedes is the only team with the pedigree to challenge, but their hyperfixation on the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has caused them and their fans to seem more like sad shadows of a former giant. Another team that has fans talking is McLaren, but their young driver lineup of 24-year-old Lando Norris and 22-year-old Oscar Piastri will have a lot of work to do earning podiums before they can think of title contention.

Aston Martin could be competitive, but with one hand tied behind their back in the form of driver Lance Stroll (the son of owner Lawrence Stroll and a crash-magnet on track), 42-year-old driver Fernando Alonso would have to carry the weight of the world on his back. One team that has struggled horribly since the start of the season was the French team known as Alpine. With an all-French lineup in the form of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, the car has looked atrocious in terms of performance, sitting last on the grid.

While the investigation into Horner’s potential affairs is ongoing, it clearly hasn’t impacted Red Bull’s performance on the track. Verstappen is nothing short of incredible behind the wheel of the RB20, and its reputation as a rocket ship is well-deserved. Even though the championship looks to be well in the hands of Red Bull before the season’s really even gotten started, the team is far from bulletproof — particularly from within.

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About the Contributors
Caleb Reed
Caleb Reed, Sports Editor
Hey! I'm Caleb Reed, and I'm the new Sports Editor for the Trinitonian this year. I love all kinds of sports and I've got a passion for both commentary and journalism which is why I declared as a Communications Major last spring. I'm super excited to be in my Junior year here at Trinity, and I'm incredibly happy to be back on the staff for my third year.
Ellie Perrier
Ellie Perrier, Illustrator
My name is Eleanor (Ellie) Perrier (She/They), I'm a junior art major working as an illustrator for the trinitonian. 90% of my closet is thrifted, and I love upcycling and sewing!

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