Race Blog
Belgium 2010

Herding cats

Red Bull are in a quandary.

What are they to do?

Perhaps it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee (or a sickly sweet caffeine-fuelled energy drink) but one suspects the Austrian team’s hierarchy can’t face doing that.

You see Red Bull – as a brand – is above anything else a marketing-led behemoth. Just take a look at all the oh-so-risky sports they sponsor: air racing, stunt biking, snow boarding, speed skiing, etc, etc.

It’s boringly predictable that when some adrenalin junkie, high on Red Bull cola, breaks a record or three on his way down from the stratosphere in his absurd wingsuit he’ll be bedecked in the red, yellow and blue of the livery we all know so well.

While this aggressive and highly successful marketing strategy has worked well outside Formula 1 it may prove the Austrian company’s downfall within it.

Their dilemma is that the upper management’s favoured driver – the beanie-hat-wearing, where’s-me-skateboard 23-year-old Sebastian Vettel – patently isn’t handling the pressure.

Meanwhile, in the other car, a not so young and ‘cool’ good ol’ Aussie bloke is getting the job done with aplomb.

As Sebastian Vettel smashes and crashes his way through numerous Sunday afternoons, Mark Webber continues to rack up race wins as well as – crucial for a championship push – podium finishes when a win is beyond him.

Getting Sebastian to calm down and think of the endgame rather than the next lap appears to be a feat akin to herding cats. Surely team principal Christian Horner must be getting tired of regularly having to defend Vettel’s Formula Ford–like driving and the shunts that result.

His suggestion (on the BBC, post-race) that Vettel’s lap 16 assault on Jenson Button’s McLaren was somehow caused by the reigning world champion’s early braking was more than a little cheeky.

Perhaps the next time his young charge clumsily takes out a rival Horner would be better served by claiming he “didn’t see it”, as is the wont of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger!

If Monza goes a similar way to Spa, Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz is going to have to make a very non energy drink marketing choice and back the ‘old bloke’ in car number 6.

If he doesn’t, both world titles will likely slip away.

And that’s not great marketing, is it?


Please now take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix by clicking here.

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