Red Bull Racing have a couple of things that they want to shout about at the moment. Not least the fact they’ve just retained the Drivers’ and Constructors F1 Championships.
The main man himself was there for a press conference too. Enter stage left, Sebastian Vettel. Interviewed by David Coulthard and joined by Adrian Newey and Christian Horner, the youngest ever double world champ (youngest ever pretty much everything in F1 to be honest) seemed relaxed and genuinely happy.
Well, why wouldn’t he? He drives one of the fastest cars in the world, and gets paid for it! I sat with scores of journalists from all over the world in a workshop where they practise pit stops, flanked by TV cameras and the world’s paparazzi. It was a little taste of what the drivers deal with every day.
After the press conference, a few of us were given a tour of the factory by Steve Nevey, Red Bull Racing’s relationship and business development manager. Suffice to say, some of the technology he showed us was out of this world.
Perhaps the most impressive were lasers producing components out of powdered materials suspended in liquid! Talk about space-age.
There were some great stories about Sebastian and the team from over the years. Before he signed, Vettel had the initiative to drive himself from Germany to Red Bull Racing in the UK for a tour. He always wanted to drive for Red Bull and was given the tour by Nevey, our host.
When the 18-year-old Vettel arrived he was wearing a Reb Bull T-Shirt and hat – a true fan. Nevey asked him if he was a racing driver.
‘Yes, I am currently leading the Formula 3 Championship,’ said Seb.
Nevey gave the excited teenager the tour, then sometime later, the team welcomed Vettel to the family and the rest is history.
Red Bull Racing don’t just use machines from suppliers and let them get on with the job either. They are constantly upgrading the machines and making them perform better and to the standards that they require.
When the team were given the machines to produce laser guided components, they were told that it would take 10 hours to make a part. Red Bull asked if there was anyway it could be five? They replied it couldn’t be done.
Red Bull wasn’t having any of that. After looking at the machine, and when I say look at, I mean strip down, understand it better and give it the Red Bull touch they got it down to seven…
Research and development is key, although Red Bull don’t charge for their part in making machines better. When I asked Nevey what they get out of it, he smiled and answered, ‘the fastest race car on the grid’.
Red Bull work with development partners such as machine manufacturers in all areas, but one of the most important is Total Lubricants. It was Total who invited us to the day, and it was clear to see their close partnership everywhere.
Much more than just a sticker on the car, they provide lubricants for all the machinery in the factory, race fuel for the cars and of course fluids for the 700bhp 2.4 V8 Renault heart that beats deep within the winning car. In fact, the technology used is eventually filtered through to road cars and dealers.
After walking through Red Bull fridge-littered corridors and workshops, we ended up at the café, which just happened to have an F1 car on the ceiling!
Before leaving, I popped to the toilet. Why am I telling you this? Well because it’s not often you have a door held open for you by Sebastian Vettel. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t on hand as a bathroom attendant, it was just luck that he went for a pee when I did. That’s one story I’ll tell the grandkids…