AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Red Bull celebrated a Formula One first at the U.S. Grand Prix, with the team clinching their third constructors’ title in a row on Sunday, even if another triple crown remained on hold for Sebastian Vettel.
They are the first team to win their first three championships consecutively and become only the fourth in the 62 year history of the sport - joining Ferrari, McLaren and Williams - to take the title three years in a row.
While the drivers’ is the more glamorous and high-profile title, the constructors’ dictates the paddock pecking order and also the size of bonuses for team staff - more than enough reason to pop some champagne.
”We’re halfway there. We’ve closed out one championship, which is to have won a third consecutive constructors,“ Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told reporters. ”It is something we could have only dreamed about a few years ago.
“To achieve what we have in 2010, 2011 and 2012 against the opponents that we have in only our eighth year in the sport is something that is quite remarkable,” added the Briton, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Friday.
“It’s testimony to the long hours, the determination, the dedication that there is within the team.”
Red Bull, a team bankrolled by the Austrian energy drink giant for whom the United States is their biggest market, took over the former Jaguar team - itself based on the Stewart outfit - and turned it into a world-beater.
Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey, the architect of much of that success and designer of title-winning cars with three different teams, paid tribute to his team mates.
”There’s a wonderful spirit at Milton Keynes (Red Bull’s headquarters),“ he told Britain’s Sky television. ”It’s just some basic factory units and nothing special but the spirit there, and the work that everybody puts in and the dedication, this is the result.
“It’s just never giving up, keep plugging away. It’s been a tough, long season, trying to understand the car and getting that working well. It’s just really been lots of hard work.”
Despite their consistent success, Red Bull know as well as anyone that even the best-prepared teams can fall victim to unexpected failures.
Alternator problems that have plagued the team this season, surfaced again on Sunday when on lap 17 Mark Webber retired with a problem that the team will not want to see reappear in Brazil next weekend.
Vettel, who finished second in Austin to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton after leading from pole, has the same car as Webber and leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by 13 points going into the finale.
Had the German won the race, and Alonso not finished in the top four, the title battle would have been over already.
“It’s a worry full stop,” said Horner of the car’s reliability. “Unfortunately it is the third alternator that we have had so we need to get it back.”
With the constructors’ title heading for the trophy cabinet, Red Bull will now focus all their attention and resources on making sure Vettel can complete his hat-trick.
Vettel will be champion again if he finishes at least fourth in Sao Paulo, whatever his Spanish rival does.
”Brazil is the final race and we’ll be approaching that as the previous 19,“ said Horner. ”We’ve got a job to do there so there will be no resting on our laurels after this result.
“We will take a moment to appreciate what we’ve done a little bit later, but the focus immediately moves to the race in Brazil and getting the maximum out of that event and attacking it as we have all the others.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin