After learning of his passing the day before, the F1 team was motivated to win the championship in Dietrich Mateschitz’s honor. The only way the team could honor him, it seemed, was to secure it with a hard-fought victory when Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton for the lead five laps from the end after recovering from a slow last pit stop.
“It was almost as if it had been scripted for him to come back through the field,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the race.
“I think Dietrich would have quite enjoyed that race, from above, to see us overtake a Mercedes with 5-6 laps to go to win the constructors championship. I think he would have been very proud about that race today.”
Instead of observing a moment of silence before the race, there was a minute of applause in Mateschitz’s honor. From the current Red Bull and AlphaTauri drivers to Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, and Alex Albon, who all had their F1 debuts with Red Bull’s junior team, all of the drivers who have gone through the Red Bull driver program stood in the front of the grid to pay their respects.
Instead of sporting black armbands at the circuit, Red Bull chose to pay special tribute by wearing blue jeans in keeping with Mateschitz’s signature style. The team was certain that Sunday would be a day of celebration for Mateschitz, and that culminated in a moving scene by the podium as Verstappen rejoiced in victory.
“Dietrich is such a giant of a man and has done so much, not just for Red Bull Racing but for Formula One, and so we felt determined to go out and really honour him in a way that would make him proud,” Horner added. “There were no black armbands, no minute’s silence — it was the embodiment of celebrating him, and the best way to do that was the performance on circuit.”
Red Bull won the race, and as a result, it won its first constructors’ championship since 2013. The second achievement is vast in scope. It marks Red Bull’s comeback as Formula One’s undisputed top team and ends Mercedes’ reign of dominance, which began with the introduction of the turbo-hybrid engine formula in 2014.
“So after eight long years we’ve never stopped believing, we’ve never stopped picking ourselves up, brushing ourselves down, and never lost sight of what our goals and objectives are, which is to get on top of both world championships. And we’ve done that,” Horner said. “That’s a testament to our staff, suppliers, partners, and just the spirit that he embodied that runs throughout all of Red Bull that has enabled us to achieve what many people would have thought had been impossible.”
Mateschitz passed away, and thus the FIA decided to postpone talks with Red Bull about the F1 budget cap breach from last year this week. The story, which has taken place over the last three race weekends, has cast doubt on the team’s most recent championship wins and still has the potential to do so if it is discovered that Red Bull acquired an advantage when developing its car concept for F1’s new regulations this year last year.
Before two weeks, the FIA determined that Red Bull had violated the $145 million spending limit in a “minor” way, with an overspend estimated to be at $1.8 million. Red Bull insists that it didn’t plan to go over the limit and questions how the FIA’s audit handled some items. The team’s failure to secure a $1.4 million R&D tax rebate from the U.K. tax authorities is also cited by insiders as a major factor in why they spent more than their rivals.
The FIA was in the process of presenting Red Bull with an agreed breach agreement (ABA), which is essentially a fine determined to be appropriate by the governing body and which the team can accept or reject to take the matter before an impartial adjudication panel. Before the agreements were stopped.
The penalty on the table is anticipated to have a financial component in addition to a physical one, most likely a limitation on the team’s access to wind tunnel time and CFD capability for the following season. Red Bull already has the least amount of CFD and wind tunnel time available under F1’s sliding scale aerodynamic testing rules, which gives the most successful team of the past six months the least development potential for the upcoming period. However, stripping the team of recent titles has never been a serious consideration.