Red Bull has confirmed the new name their former AlphaTauri team will race under in 2024, but we’re not quite sure what to call it…
Having decided to withdraw their clothing brand AlphaTauri from the front line and come up with a new branding exercise for the sister team, Red Bull’s confirmed new name is making life very complicated for everybody.
Having had hints as to the name leak online last week, Red Bull confirmed AlphaTauri’s new name for 2024 as Visa Cash App RB – an identity that doesn’t lend itself very well to rolling off the tongue.
So… what do we call the now-former AlphaTauri team?
The problem with the new name is that, unlike what was previously thought, the ‘RB’ in the name simply doesn’t stand for anything. All sorts of rumours abounded over the last few months, with the ‘Racing Bulls’ moniker the one that was postulated the most (particularly with ‘Racing Bulls S.p.A. being mentioned on their own website!).
But that name has proven inaccurate – the Racing Bulls name is not being officially used and, at the time of writing, there’s no suggestion that RB will ever stand for anything.
Sponsors are a necessary evil, of course, and let’s not pretend that sponsor agreements haven’t led to unusual circumstances before.
An egregious example of historical sponsor appeasement occurred in 1979 when Williams opted to enter F1 under the name Albilad-Saudia Racing Team. Everyone still called them Williams.
Even an example like a team being renamed after a company, like Toleman becoming Benetton, was justifiable – Benetton is a word (a family name), and the Benetton family owned the team outright.
But, for a long time, the long-accepted fashion of using [Title Sponsor] [Team Name] [Engine Supplier] couldn’t have made life easier for everyone – the sponsors got their prominence, the teams kept their names, and the engine supplier tacked on at the end.
But, despite the current teams’ value and wealth never being higher, the move to appease sponsors in ever more identity-diminishing team names has resulted in two outfits revealing particularly difficult names for 2024.
‘RB’ is a weak new identity
Sauber, the actual team behind the Alfa Romeo entry of the last few years, is treading water until Audi’s arrival in 2026 by naming themselves Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber, with the chassis named the Kick Sauber.
But Sauber remains lurking in the background, allowing traditionalists to call them that and allowing Martin Brundle and David Croft to ‘slip up’ in their commentary when they feel like making a point.
There’s no such simplicity with Red Bull’s second team (seriously, I don’t know what to write here). With Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri axed, there’s no name to fall back on. Unlike in the case of Sauber, or the historical example of Williams, RB is the best we have to work with.
Calling them the ‘Visas’ or the ‘Cash Apps’ or a combination of both is just plain silly while calling them ‘the RBs’ doesn’t lend itself well to either written or spoken word.
For a company that has prided itself, and rightly so, on the strength of its marketing over the past two decades, the fact one of its two teams no longer has a clear identity of its own is a hugely confusing move.
As any fans of Prince when he named himself a symbol, or of the band ‘The Band’, will tell you, ease of naming and accessibility – particularly in the internet age – is massively important. Fans who type in ‘McLaren’ or ‘Aston Martin’ etc. aren’t going to struggle to find their favourite team. Typing in ‘RB’ isn’t going to net many results for fans of the team formerly known as AlphaTauri.
“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 1 story,” Peter Bayer said of the team’s rebranding.
But what is that identity? Visa and Cash App are sponsors/partners, rather than having ownership status, so it’s not really possible to point at them as being the identity.
Calling them Red Bull is plain confusing, and ‘RB’ surely can’t be considered a permanent solution, can it? Annoyingly, it’s the only identity that can really be used at the moment – and it’s not exactly a strong one.
F1 needs to introduce team name guidelines to prevent situations like RB and Stake
To prevent situations like ‘RB’ and ‘Stake’ from happening again, F1 needs to implement new naming rules. Like how teams are required to run liveries that remain largely the same for most of the year (although that rule is slipping as well), firm identities need to be tied to the team’s ownership and not based on the whims of temporary sponsorship deals.
The mooted internal name for the Faenza-based team is ‘V-CARB’, which wouldn’t be too bad in itself but, again, is dependent on its sponsorship deals. So, again, it’s useless for when one or both of those sponsorship deals end.
Red Bull is in the unique position of having two teams. Their eponymous team couldn’t be any clearer as to its name and identity. The second team had a clear identity as Toro Rosso (Italian for Red Bull – logical for an Italy-based team owned by Red Bull), and even as AlphaTauri as a promotional tool for a brand owned by Red Bull.
But this new identity reveal smacks of uncertainty and a lack of clear direction over how to proceed with their second team as anything other than a billboard for sale. Perhaps it’s even an indication of a desire to slowly remove the team’s identity to make it more appealing for an external buyer if Red Bull wanted to part ways with their second team?
The only way the situation can be improved in the short-term is to decide that RB actually stands for something tangible (and did all along, of course!) and confirm what that is.