SportF1How Raikkonen prevented Sauber from becoming Red Bull F1

How Raikkonen prevented Sauber from becoming Red Bull F1

Red Bull is one of the most successful teams in the history of the premier class. The team has been competing as a private team since 2005 and to date has won five drivers’ titles, four constructors’ titles and has won a total of 84 races

The history of Red Bull began after acquiring Jaguar Racing, a team that was sold after Ford ‘s gloomy step at the controls of this brand, but it should be remembered that it was not the only option that the energy drink giant had to enter the Formula 1 back then.

Alfa Romeo team sporting director Beat Zehnder acknowledged on the official Formula 1 podcast, Beyond the Grid , that Sauber was another of Red Bull ‘s options.

The two brands were linked between 1995 and 2001. The Austrian manufacturer was the team’s main sponsor, but it all ended when Sauber refused to put Red Bull-sponsored Enrique Bernoldi at the wheel of one of its cars in 2001.

“Red Bull insisted on Enrique, who had driven in Formula 3000 in 2000,” says Zehnder in Beyond the Grid . ” Peter Sauber asked me to follow him the whole season. So I was present at all the Formula 3000 races.”

However, the Brazilian did not have very good performances. Although he was already in his second season in the F3000, Bernoldi did not get past 16th place. He only finished in the points in three of the ten races run.

Zehnder also questioned the driver’s motivation: “Why did I want to be an F1 driver? Because I wanted to get into the biggest clubs for free. That was my feeling,” he explained.

Kimi Raikkonen

At the same time, Peter Sauber made the decision to give a then unknown driver Kimi Raikkonen a chance to test one of his F1 cars, something that Zehnder did not understand at the time.

“I still can’t explain why he did it. When we went in Kimi’s direction, the idea of becoming Red Bull Racing probably disappeared.

Red Bull ended up placing Bernoldi at Arrows as Jos Verstappen’s partner. His highlight came at the Monaco GP, when he managed to hold off David Coulthard in the McLaren for several laps. After a year and a half and 28 races played, Bernoldi’s career came to an end without scoring a single point. On the other hand, Peter Sauber hit the jackpot with Raikkonen . A year and a half later, the Finn signed for McLaren and would later become world champion with Ferrari.

All these events have probably prevented Red Bull from celebrating its successes in Hinwil today. Instead, the structure’s trophies for energy drinks are now located in Milton Keynes , Great Britain.

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