x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

One down, one to go for Red Bull

Red Bull Racing wins a ground-breaking constructors' championship, and the subject is deluged beneath a compelling title fracas among the drivers.

In a daydream sequence, Christian Horner could be riding through Vienna or Milton Keynes on a parade float cheered by heavily caffeinated admirers gorging on slim cans of Red Bull, waving fake palm fronds uprooted from shopping malls and hollering plaudits about his mastery of aerodynamics.

Instead, he has spent this momentous week fielding questions about team orders when everyone knows any list of the world's most depressing subjects includes team orders.

Some planet. Red Bull Racing wins a ground-breaking constructors' championship in the incredible grind of Formula One, and the subject is deluged beneath a compelling title fracas among the drivers.

It comes as a testament to a few hard realities in life, including that glamour will always dart to the flesh-and-blood of drivers over the brain matter and labour of those who enable drivers, and that few human beings are entranced by matters of engineering.

A brief rundown for the uninitiated: last Sunday in Sao Paulo, Red Bull clinched the constructors' championship as the team with the most season-long points, and with one race to spare in only its sixth season in a plutocratic sport.

The world shrugged and wondered who might win the first drivers' championship ever to boast four mathematical contenders for a finale. Delicious possibilities swamped an impressive certainty.

Horner tried gamely to provide solace in a press conference yesterday evening at Yas Marina Circuit, referring to the team headquarters northwest of London and saying, "The delight and buzz to come out of Milton Keynes was just absolutely tremendous."

You know you are a drowned-out voice when you extol "delight and buzz" out of Milton Keynes. If delight and buzz out of Milton Keynes falls in a forest, does anybody hear it?

Seriously, however, while the drivers rate attention for their boldness and risk, constructors' championships merit appeal for the thankless and glitter-less toil of those less-compensated and less likely to spend any given moment plunging into a snit. As the almost-37-year-old Horner put it in an interview on the F1 website, a drivers' title "would be the second big thing. The first big thing was achieved in Brazil. That win is hugely significant within the team."

He explained: "It is how the different departments measure themselves against their competitors, whether it is aerodynamics, manufacturing, upgrade ability or pit stops."

Unfortunately, much of the human race dozed off right around the word "manufacturing", unless they had indulged in a Red Bull of the liquid sort.

Continuing, Horner said: "So the constructors' actually is the bigger championship. The drivers' title is the one that carries the prestige and the public remembers most."

As in the cases of actors trumping directors and scriptwriters for fame, we the public bestow fame unthinkingly.

For the record, the Red Bull championship is both Formula One-historic and beverage-historic. It marks the first constructors' championship for any beverage, let alone a highly caffeinated and mildly controversial one banned in France and once banned in Denmark and Norway.

It marks the first known instance of any Formula One financier - Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz - crafting his fortune from visiting Southeast Asia as a toothpaste marketer and deciding to market a version of a Thai drink that cured his jet lag and aided weary cab drivers.

It enables Horner to say truisms like, "Just over six years ago, Dietrich Mateschitz had a vision that perhaps a few people scoffed at, at the time"' thereby fulfilling the axiom of proving other people wrong, which is the entire purpose of professional sport. It comes only four years and some months after one David Coulthard took third place at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix for Red Bull's first podium spot after apparently contagious mechanical problems ahead of him befell Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli, and a drive-through penalty foiled Rubens Barrichello.

Both to promote a movie and to celebrate, Coulthard donned a Superman cape that day and said, "This is a great reward for everyone in the team when you consider the difficult start to the season we have had."

It seemed cute.

Well, much like the slim, silver cans pierced the soft-drink blue-bloods across three decades to become No 1, Red Bull has spent six seasons climbing through Ferraris and McLarens to No 1, so that by last night, the Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali warmly said: "The advice I would give Christian" - for tomorrow - "is that he has already won a championship this year. He has already covered that with very short days behind him so he is bulletproof on that."

So it is an inspiring climb if only we can find space in our glamour-seeking hearts for the poor, disregarded constructors' cham- . . . Wait. Are you sleeping?

cculpepper@thenational.ae