Red Bull Triumph: Milton Keynes Rules the Roost At Last

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIINovember 7, 2010

Red Bull Triumph: Milton Keynes Rules the Roost At Last

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    Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

    Despite for the most part having the strongest and fastest car, Red Bull made difficult work of claiming the first constructors title.

    Yet alas with a magnificent one-two in Brazil the team gains its first seasonal triumph in their sixth year in the sport.

    For me the moment was poignant as the team are based in my hometown of Milton Keynes.

    As one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, sadly in the world of sport Milton Keynes had failed to establish itself.

    We had a football team in the third tier of the league system. However this was a team born out of an ejection of Wimbledon from their roots in London.

    Now Formula 1 has put the city well and truly on the map. After the countless reminders of their base today people will now know where Milton Keynes is!

    Things have not always been easy though. Here I take a look at the history of Milton Keynes within the world of Formula 1; through the ups and downs, through the triumphs and at times catastrophic failures.

The Debut Of Milton Keynes: Stewart Racing

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    Brandishing their mainly white with tartan strip bodywork the team led by father and son Jackie and Paul Stewart entered Formula 1 in 1997.

    Having a former World Champion create the team at least gave people the confidence that the team knew what they were doing.

    They set themselves a home in Milton Keynes and work began.

    And compared to the lacklustre efforts this year of teams like Hispania and Virgin the team introduced themselves with at least something worthy of note.

    At the time of their entrance into the sport, alternative ill fated debuts from the likes of Simtek and Forte had occurred. The latter team had been deemed the worst rookies the sport had ever seen.

    Yet for Steward Grand Prix, lead by Rubens Barrichello the team instated themselves in the midfield.
    They even mustered a celebrated podium placed second in Monaco as Rubens became the hero during difficult conditions in Monte Carlo.

    Sadly the car did introduce something that would be hard to shake in the future years for Milton Keynes many guises; reliability issues.

    Their Ford engine struggled with only eight finishes from 34 starts. Two of those did come amidst the heroic scenes in Monaco but a string of five straight races without a finish did little to boost the reputation of the Stewart team.

    Season number two left them at a further loss as the team faded into the background. Ruben's team mate Jan Magnussen was replaced by Jos Verstappen half way through the season, and despite an improved reliability (twelve finishes from thirty two) the team lacked the inspiration needed to stake a foothold into the sport.

The Birth of Something Great? The Final Season for Stewart

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    The shock of the second season must have encouraged the Stewart Racing team to evolve. And that they did with an explosive entrance into the 1999 season.

    Rubens was partnered by Johnny Herbert and the pair qualified impressively with Rubens fourth on the grid. Gremlins within the engine meant that Rubens lost out on a potential win but the wheels were in motion.

    A largely competitive season was capped off by an historical triumph for Herbert in Europe as he capitalised on desperate conditions to win the teams first and only Grand Prix.

    Eventually they came home in fourth in the constructors, with four podiums in total to their name. They also gained a vastly enhanced eighteen out of a possible 32 finishes, pushing the teams overall reliability to over 50% for the first time.

    It was a fitting year for me to meet Paul Stewart that year in a school awards ceremony where he was the 'celebrity' handing out rewards. Sadly my award was for attendance, but he was a man at his peak, with a team that were improving!

Jaguar Racing: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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    What we have to sometimes remember is that Formula 1 is a business. Many were frustrated at the exit of Brawn GP after only one year in the sport, yet team takeovers have been common place in F1 over the years.

    In 1999 Ford, who had supplied the engines for Stewart Racing brought out Jackie and Paul, with an accompanying re-branding as of the team as Jaguar Racing.

    The team aimed to spend big and yield bigger and better results. How foolish they were!

    They acquired the potential skills of Eddie Irvine to partner Johnny Herbert. The Irish driver had finished second overall the season before and looked to be an impressive signing.

    The next five years however saw various changes in management and a general lack of cohesion within the team.

    After Stewart's final season of promise the Jaguar team fell backwards. This was a shame as at times they appeared pacy, yet were undone on various occasions by a lack of consistency and again a lack of reliability.

    I would also hold the team responsible for the relatively small career of Pedro de la Rosa. The Spaniard had impressed at Arrows, but was given little to improve on his potential at Jaguar. Consequentially he became written out of the sport as a first team driver until his full reemergence this year at Sauber.

    Their solitary redemption was in giving Mark Webber a stepping stone into the sport. He was a driver who would find himself at Milton Keynes's next team a few years later.

    In five seasons within the sport Jaguar Racing would only gain two podiums, before leaving after realising that the sport was not for them. They no longer wanted to splash their cash in a sport that did not produce the results they wanted.

    Milton Keynes were left with an unfulfilled and uncertain role in the sport.

Red Bull Racing: The Coulthard Years

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    Things would take a turn for the better however when drinks company Red Bull brought the team in 2004. Christian Horner headed the outfit who would soon changed their engine supplier effectively to Renault.

    After his career had come crashing down, the champion that never was-David Coulthard was acquired by the team.

    Optimistically, after the shenanigans at Jaguar, the Red Bull team seemed serious on a long term aim.
    They wanted an experienced driver to spearhead their first seasons in the sport and saw Coulthard as the perfect opportunity to learn their way into the competition.

    For me it was a dream partnership. I had followed Coulthard since his debut in 94, and to see him now accompanying the team based in my hometown provided a rounded spectacle.

    And the partnership seemed to suit the Scot well as he regained his composure and reputation by gifting the team a haul of points in their opener in Australia. Coulthard gained a result he had found hard to come by at Mclaren by finishing fourth. His team mate Christian Klien built upon his debut with Jaguar by making it a double on their debut by finishing seventh.

    Whilst the team were not race winners they showed early promise. Coulthard almost gained a momentous and guaranteed podium in normal conditions in Monaco, before an unfortunate accident put him out of the race.

    A points tally and fifteen top eight finishes that eclipsed any of Jaguar's five seasons gave Milton Keynes a team they could finally start to expect things from.

    Their following season in 2006 wasn't as spectacular but can be forgiven for that podium and that cape from Coulthard in Monaco.

    If there was any way to come back from the loss of a certain podium the year before, it was to fight to a confident third placed finish and don a superman cape at the podium procession!

    In 2007 Christian Klien was substituted for Mark Webber who returned to Milton Keynes after a two year unfulfilled absence at Williams.

    In the next two seasons both himself and Coulthard gave Red Bull a further podium each. The outfit were gradually building upon their opening two years.

Milton Keynes Begins to Get Its Wings

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    Towards the end of the 2008 season Coulthard's career began once more to slide. Red Bull were also outshone in Italy by their supposedly weaker sister team Toro Rosso.

    The Milton Keynes outfit would have none of it and immediately acquired the talents of Sebastien Vettel who had performed a miracle with his triumph in Monza.

    Where Coulthard had built the foundations it was Sebastien Vettel who thrust the Red Bull team into life. He gave them wings and put paid to any laughter that met Red Bull's earlier claims of gaining wins and challenging for championships.

    Six wins between Vettel and Webber pushed Red Bull from seventh to second in the constructors standings and gifted Milton Keynes a chance to progress even further as the sport head into 2010.

    For Mark Webber it was the opportunity he had craved for so long; he was within a team that afforded him reliability and pace to support his credentials.

    Milton Keynes and the world awaited.

Red Bull Domination: The 2010 Season

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    Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

    Like the drink gives you energy, the team gave Milton Keynes and the sport of Formula 1 the same in bucket-loads.

    Red Bull burst into action for 2010 and quickly instated themselves as the team to beat for the new season.

    If it had not been for the coming together of the two team mates in Turkey the team may have acclimatised themselves to the constructors title sooner.

    In the end though it was the machinery that did the talking as with eight wins between the two drivers the team gained an outstanding triumph with their one-two finish in Interlagos.

    For those ten plus years in Milton Keynes, for those thousands of hours worked in the factory the remnants of Stewart Racing and Jaguar had come so beautifully together with Red Bull and Adrian Newey.

    Most importantly the team also showed the allowance of their drivers to race against each other, as opposed to opting for a favourite. This warranted a great amount of respect from the Formula 1 neutral.

    Team orders may still come into play in Abu Dhabi, but now only in a way that would draw the stakes level after Ferrari's travesty in Germany.

Milton Keynes in Celebration

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    The team at last have already done the talking. The concrete cows now have some competition in the form of the bulls coloured red. A winter of intrigue will surely follow as Red Bull will look to seek a continuation of the dominance they at times showed in 2010.

    Most importantly from the baby steps of Stewart, to the unflattering promises of Jaguar the team of Red Bull looks to be one in existence much longer than their predecessors.

    And who knows, decades down the line Red Bull may be the historical wonders, much like Ferrari and Mclaren have become at this moment in time.