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3hrs 24min - MotoGP Qualifying
Feb 17, 2024
Matthew Harper

Red Bull’s ownership of two F1 teams is becoming increasingly awkward, not only for F1’s new ‘franchise model’ but for the team itself. The idea behind a franchise model is that each team has a strong identity to help build a fanbase. Red Bull’s handling of this with its second team has been very poor during this latest rebrand. Let’s start with the obvious problem, the team name.

The official name for this team is Racing Bulls in honor of late Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz’s Flying Bulls. Racing Bulls however does not feature anywhere in the team name as it appears on the F1 team entry list with the RB in the team name referencing that they are part of Red Bull.

The naming is part of a wider problem, that the team has no real purpose. It’s obviously not going to beat Red Bull racing so it's competing in a sport with no ambitions of winning. It could be argued that this was always the case when the team was running under its previous identities but as Torro Rosso it had the primary function of bringing Red Bull backed young drivers into F1. The appointments of Nick De Vries and Daniel Riccardo at Alpha Tauri and Sergio Perez in the main team are clear examples that this is no longer the case.

Why then is this the perfect opportunity for Andretti as opposed to buying any other team on the grid? Firstly it helps F1 out of an awkward situation by removing Red Bull’s ownership of two teams. The idea of an Andretti run team with GM backing replacing the second Red Bull team would be looked upon much more favorably than its pitch to become an eleventh team.

The second reason this buyout makes so much sense is that Andretti has an existing relationship with Honda, running Honda engines in Indycar. Vcarb are currently using Honda powertrains and Honda protege driver Yuki Tsunonda. If Andretti bought the team, agreed to run Tsunoda alongside an American driver then I’m sure a customer deal could be reached to carry on using Honda engines from 2026 onwards. This would give Andretti a class leading powertrain for their debut season whilst allowing the team's designers to carry on working around a familiar engine and gearbox package.

The third reason is more sentimental. Vcarb are currently based in Faenza, Italy where the team was originally created as Minardi. It was the wish of Mateschitz that the team would stay in Faenza. The new Red Bull management structure however has other ideas as it plans to incorporate the majority of the team within Red Bull’s Milton Keynes facility.

Having the American Italian Andretti family onboard and running a large part of the team out of Italy would strengthen its ties with the area and with F1 history further cementing Andretti’s place in Formula 1.

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