10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Will Sergio Perez be the next victim of Red Bull's sackings? Crash.net takes a look at the history of Red Bull’s ruthless approach to driver performance. 
10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Christian Klien 

Going back to the very start of Red Bull’s history in F1, Christian Klien was the first victim of the team’s ruthless ways. 

Having initially beaten Vitantonio Liuzzi to secure the second seat at Red Bull alongside David Coulthard, and after making an impressive start to the 2005 season, Klien was replaced by Liuzzi for four races. 

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After Liuzzi failed to live up to expectations during his selected outings, Klien was brought back into the fold for the rest of the season. 

But it was to be short-lived. Klien was dropped for the final races of 2006 in favour of Robert Doornbos. Neither would go on to get the seat for 2007, however, as Red Bull instead signed Mark Webber. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Scott Speed 

Scott Speed became the first American to race in F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993 when he was announced as a Toro Rosso driver alongside Liuzzi for the Faenza outfit’s debut campaign in 2006. 

Following a disappointing start to the 2007 season, and having failed to score a single point for Toro Rosso, Speed was given the chop in favour of rising star Sebastian Vettel. 

Speed was reportedly involved in a physical altercation with team principal Franz Tost - though the latter has denied this - and publicly criticised his team before he was released after 10 races. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Sebastien Bourdais

Brought in as Vettel’s teammate at Red Bull’s sister team, Sebastien Bourdais struggled to match his younger teammate but also suffered some cruel luck at times. 

The Frenchman retired with an engine failure while running as high as fourth on his debut, was on course for a podium at Spa in 2008 before late rain, saw his best-ever qualifying result wrecked when his car would not select first gear on the grid at Monza, and was on the receiving end of a controversial penalty that robbed him of a points finish in Japan. 

Paired against Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi for 2009 following Vettel’s Red Bull promotion, Bourdais failed to live up to expectations and was dumped half-way through the season. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Sebastien Buemi

20-year-old Buemi enjoyed an impressive start to his F1 career as he outperformed the more experienced Bourdais and ended his debut season as the best rookie. 

Buemi once again finished as the highest-placed Toro Rosso driver in 2010 but despite getting the better of teammates Bourdais and then Jaime Alguersuari over his three seasons at the team, Buemi was unfortunate to be ditched in 2012 as Toro Rosso brought in Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. 

Buemi, who went on to become a champion in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship, remains part of the Red Bull family today, acting as one of the team’s reserve drivers. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Jaime Alguersuari

When he made his debut at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Alguersuari was the youngest driver to ever compete in F1 at 19 years and 125 days old.

Alguersuari went on to score 31 points in 46 starts in F1 but faced an acrimonious exit from the Red Bull programme when he and Buemi were booted out in favour of Ricciardo and Vergne. 

Following a brief stint in Formula E, Alguersuari retired from motorsport in 2015 in order to pursue a career as a DJ, going under the stage name ‘Squire’. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Jean-Eric Vergne

Vergne entered F1 in 2012 when he formed part of Toro Rosso’s revised driver line-up, alongside Ricciardo. 

The highly-rated Frenchman was considered unfortunate to never get a promotion to Red Bull. He finished his first season ahead of Ricciardo but was outshone in year two, with the Australian earning a Red Bull seat for 2014. 

Vergne continued at Toro Rosso in 2014 alongside rookie Daniil Kvyat. Vergne was hamstrung by bad luck and bad timing as Red Bull announced his Toro Rosso seat would be taken by Max Verstappen. Vergne had been overlooked by Red Bull for a second time, with Kvyat chosen ahead of him as Vettel’s successor. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Daniil Kvyat (three times)

Nobody else can quite match Kvyat when it comes to being a victim of Red Bull’s cut-throat approach to F1. 

Hired by Red Bull after an impressive rookie season with Toro Rosso, things started well for Kvyat as he ended 2015 as Red Bull’s top scorer, beating Ricciardo over the course of the year. 

But Kvyat’s world crumbled around him in 2016. After earning his infamous ‘torpedo’ reputation for colliding with Vettel on his way to the podium in China, a nightmare home race in Russia followed as Kvyat crashed into Vettel twice in two corners and inadvertently ended up jeopardising Ricciardo’s race. 

It proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and the Russian was unceremoniously dropped at the next round in Spain to make way for Red Bull’s superstar in-the-making, Verstappen. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Kvyat’s demotion, just four races into the season, set a new tone for Red Bull’s handling of their youngsters. 

Kvyat’s form nosedived at Toro Rosso, leading to him twice losing his seat in a matter of weeks - first to Pierre Gasly, and then to Brendon Hartley. 

Despite being axed from Red Bull’s driver programme at the end of 2017, Kvyat returned for a third stint with the team in 2019 following Gasly’s promotion to Red Bull. After two seasons, he was gone again after losing out to Yuki Tsunoda for 2021. 

Brendon Hartley

Hartley had to wait nine years to be given his opportunity by Red Bull, which first came at the expense of Kvyat towards the end of 2017. 

But following a difficult full-season alongside the quicker Gasly, Hartley became the next driver to get the boot after just three points scores in 21 races in 2018. 

Helmut Marko, the head of Red Bull’s driver development, decided the Kiwi’s performances were not convincing enough to ever consider him for a future Red Bull seat, making Hartley’s stint in the Red Bull driver pool one of the shortest. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Pierre Gasly

Gasly’s brief spell as a Red Bull driver in 2019 lasted just 12 races before he was sent back to Toro Rosso, with Alex Albon going the other way. 

The Frenchman, who got the drive following Ricciardo’s unexpected departure to Renault, struggled to match Verstappen’s performances and sat sixth in the championship with 63 points at the time he was replaced. 

Given Verstappen was third and had managed 181 points in the same time, Gasly’s half-season haul was considered a substantial handicap in Red Bull’s constructors’ championship battle with Ferrari.

Gasly was able to rediscover his previous form at Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri as he claimed his first F1 podium, before going on to take a stunning victory at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. 

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

Alex Albon

Much like the man he replaced, a failure to reach Verstappen’s heights ultimately proved to be Albon’s downfall. 

Despite taking two podiums, Red Bull felt Albon had not performed strongly enough in his 18 months with the team to justify keeping him on. 

After being out-qualified by Verstappen at every race in 2020, Albon was demoted to be Red Bull’s reserve driver for 2021 as the team brought in Sergio Perez. 

Albon is now flourishing at Williams, who provided the British-born Thai with the chance to return to the grid on a full-time basis in 2022.

10 F1 drivers who fell victim to Red Bull’s ruthless ways

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