7th January 2005 - Christian Horner Appointed Red Bull Sporting Director
This week 14 years ago, a young Christian Horner was appointed sporting director of Formula 1's newest entry, Red Bull Racing. The energy drinks company bought out the old Jaguar team at the end of 2004. Previously, Horner had excellent success with the Formula 3000 team Arden, who won both the 2004 drivers and constructors titles with future Red Bull driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi, also winning in 2003 with Bjorn Wirdheim. The step up to Formula 1 was always Horner's aim as shown in his attempt to buy the Jordan team from Eddie Jordan but withdrew when these talks broke down.
After the buyout of Jaguar, the old regime of the team was essentially ripped out by politics. Tony Purnell and David Pitchfirth were in charge of the Jaguar team and ran the team as if it was a democracy. As is seen over the years however, that is not the way to run a successful Formula 1 team. Look at the way Ferrari have ran they team over the years. The overall feel was that Purnell and Pitchfirth were naive and an operation under the Jaguar name should have been more successful on track. Adding to this, there was a strong sense that major issues such as engine and reliability problems were never properly addressed.
Guenther Steiner was also added to the Red Bull operation as technical director, a role he held up until 2002, when Purnell and Pitchfirth regime began. The rest, as they say, is history as Horner led the team to four consecutive drivers and constructors titles between 2010 and 2013.
9th January 1977 - Wolf's First F1 Victory
Jody Scheckter scored the Wolf Formula 1 team's first victory on their debut at the Argentine GP. Walter Wolf, an Austrian who made his money in the oil business, first entered Formula 1 in 1975 and partnered with Frank Williams, who had not yet made his name in the sport. 1976 saw the team named Wolf-Williams but it was clear very quickly that Wolf did not want to be a support to another team. The partnership lasted one season and Wolf cut the name Williams from the 1977 team name. Peter Warr was brought in to run the team and Scheckter was signed from Tyrell. Their debut race saw them take the chequered flag through some good fortune as James Hunt, who had a 15 second lead and defending his title, crashed out after an error and Ferrari's Nikki Lauda, who would go on to win the title, retired with car trouble. It should be noted that the Wolf team were still there all season fighting for the title but the more consistent Lauda won the title, beating Scheckter by 17 points, and the Lotus of Mario Andretti, who possibly had the best car, but the poorer reliability.
9th January 2003 - Jos Verstappen Joins Minardi
Back in 2003, Jos Verstappen, father of F1's hottest commodity Max, signed for his 6th and final team, Minardi. Jos would call it a day at the end of the season on a career that could have delivered the heights that his son is currently experiencing. Astoundingly quick during his karting days, he had started less than 50 races throughout Formula Opel Lotus and German F3 before making his Formula 1 debut alongside Michael Schumacher in Brazil 1994 in the Benetton. Any similarities there?
Always viewed as one of Formula 1's quickest drivers, amazingly his highest finish in the sport was third at the 1994 Hungarian GP. Given the machinery he had during that year and with his talent that he was unable to win a race. This was down to inexperience more than anything else and the fact he was in and out of the car as officially he was the teams test driver.
This was as good as it got for Verstappen really. He will ultimately be remembered for two things. The massive pit fire that occurred at the 1994 German GP that he somehow survived and for running into the back of Juan Pablo Montoya at Brazil in 2001 when he was a lap down. A Verstappen being involved in a lapping crash? Where have I heard that recently?