Monday, July 13, 2009

BAR vs. Stewart

It occurred to me this weekend that the two teams at the top of the grid this year, Red Bull and Brawn, both have their roots in teams which were started about the same time. Red Bull has its genesis in the Stewart team started by Jackie Stewart in 1997, while Brawn's modern roots go back to British American Tobbaco's buy-out of Tyrell in 1998.

At the time there was a lot of back-and-forth in the media over whether it was better to start a new team from scratch, or effectively buy an entry from an existing team and throw everything else away.

In the end it was kind of moot as both teams went through a couple of metamorphasis to get to where they they are: Stewart -> Ford/Jaguar -> Red Bull and Tyrell -> BAR -> Honda -> Brawn.

But it is interesting to see two teams which were formed at the same time coming to prominence at the same time.

Contemplating the two teams, I am surprised that Honda bailed out when they did. While I am sure that the Honda board is kicking themselves for bailing out just before a dominant and successful season, I have serious doubts as to whether the team would have been as successful with a Honda engine in the car as opposed to the Mercedes. It also remains to be seen if Brawn can produce another competitive car for next year while pursuing this year's championship.

I am surprised that Red Bull managed to succeed at all. Their first year was flattered by the preparation done the previous year as Jaguar, and I really through they had bitten off more than they could chew when they immediately went out and bought Minardi as a junior team, and was unsurprised that by the end of the first year of Red Bull/Torro Rosso all four cars were circulating more or less together. The fact that Torro Rosso got the umbrella's first win (Vettel in Italy last year) only showed the ineptness with which the organization was being run. I had them pegged as an "all flash no dash" team and fully expected them to have divested themselves of Torro Rosso by now.

In a way both teams profited by the big two teams dropping the ball the way they did. However the fact is that they both had the means to take advantage of those mistakes by others.