AlphaTauri to be renamed Visa Cash App RB

AlphaTauri to be renamed Visa Cash App RB – to fury of rivals McLaren
This logo will appear on the cars of the renamed Visa Cash App RB team

Scuderia AlphaTauri have been renamed Visa Cash App RB Formula One team with immediate effect, it has been announced.

The Visa logo will also appear on the cars of reigning champions Red Bull in 2024 as part of a “groundbreaking” multi-year global partnership deal.

AlphaTauri’s name change had been widely trailed. At one stage last autumn it appeared they would be called the ‘Racing Bulls’. But that idea was eventually dismissed, possibly for being too similar to Red Bull. The team’s new commercial partners eventually managed to shoehorn their names into the new team name in much the same way as Sauber have been rebranded Stake F1 for the new season following the departure of Alfa Romeo.

Drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo will unveil the newly designed livery when they launch Visa Cash App RB’s 2024 challenger in Las Vegas on Feb 8. The new season starts in Bahrain on March 2.

The rebrand, which extends to the team’s entry in the all-female F1 Academy, is part of a deepening of ties between the two Red Bull-owned teams, which has caused some consternation in the paddock.

AlphaTauri to be renamed Visa CashApp RB – to fury of rivals McLaren
AlphaTauri’s cars will get a makeover before the season gets under way on March 2 - AP/Eric Gay

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, was forced to defend the team from criticism late last season that the relationship gave them an unfair advantage. Horner argued that Ferrari and Mercedes had similar arrangements with their customer teams.

Red Bull has owned two teams on the grid ever since it purchased Minardi and rebranded it to Toro Rosso in 2006. But this season will see synergy between the two ramped up as far as the rules allow, particularly commercially, with a new company created that will see marketing and communications come under one roof.

Visa Cash App RB, who have a new chief executive Peter Bayer and team principal Laurent Mekies, will continue to operate out of Faenza in Italy.

But the team’s UK operation in Bicester will be augmented and some personnel will move to Red Bull Racing’s Milton Keynes campus in preparation for the team’s adoption of the Red Bull-Ford power unit from 2026 onwards, which both teams will race.

“It’s fantastic to reveal the new identity and to welcome new partners as we embark on the next phase of the team’s Formula One story,” Bayer said in a team press release. “Faenza is entering a new era of racing, staying true to our roots as a hothouse for talent but now with an even greater focus on competing for the biggest prizes in F1. We have a bold vision for the team lead by myself and team principal Laurent Mekies and having future-focused partners such as Visa and Cash App alongside us on that journey is hugely exciting.”

Concerns nothing new – but bigger questions remain

“And here is Guanyu Zhou’s Stake F1 car. It’s all over the back of Yuki Tsunoda’s Visa Cash App RB.” Pity David Croft. Murray Walker never had to deal with such nonsense.

This rebranding of AlphaTauri is unlikely to go down well with F1 fans. There will be ridicule. There will be memes (see below). F1 will be accused of providing yet more evidence, if it were needed, that the [commercial] tail of the sport is now very much wagging the dog.

But beyond the ugly name – the early frontrunner for an abbreviation appears to be VCARB, which sounds like a low-protein diet – there is a wider issue at play. McLaren chief executive Zak Brown repeated calls last week for FIA, the governing body, to crack down on what he called “A and B teams”. In particular Brown expressed fresh concerns about the relationship between the two Red Bull-owned entities. “I think the A-B team is a real problem moving forward,” he said. “I think co-ownership, you don’t really have that in any other sport, and I think that provides a lot of conflict of interest.”

These concerns are nothing new. F1’s regulations allow for certain ‘transferrable components’ designed by one team to be bought by another, with VCARB (it is going to take some getting used to) among several to make use of this rule. Haas also have a wide-ranging technical partnership with Ferrari, which includes an office at the Italian team’s Maranello factory.

Horner argued in Abu Dhabi last season that the two relationships were ”identical” and insisted the extent of his team’s sharing with AlphaTauri complied with all the regulations. They were scrupulous about what they shared with their sister team.

“Of course,” Horner said, “it’s then down to them how they use those tools and you can see that McLaren has used the tools in certain respects better than their supplier [Mercedes] has done in the second half of the year.”

He added: “We’re an awfully long way away from the pink Mercedes.” That last comment was a reference to the 2020 Racing Point [now Aston Martin] machine, which was extremely similar to the dominant Mercedes car from the year before.

He had a point. But you can understand Brown’s paranoia, too. Particularly when the two Red Bull teams are becoming more closely aligned in certain areas. And particularly in this cost-cap era.

“When the rules [on ownership] were put in place, the sport was in a different place,” Brown said. “We had a huge gap between teams like ourselves with huge budgets, and smaller teams. Now everybody’s pretty much at the [limit of the budget] cap. So I think everyone’s playing with the same-size bat, to use a baseball term. That’s a serious issue for the fairness of the sport, for the fans. That’s why it’s pretty much not allowed in any other form of major sport.”

However much Red Bull insist that they are doing things by the book, however much they protest that it is the same for Ferrari and Mercedes, there will always be that fear that dual-ownership gives Red Bull a competitive advantage.

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