One does not simply start a new Formula 1 team these days. It’s too complex for that, and there’s a limited number of places on the grid. Hence, “new” teams have in the last decades usually been new names after the takeover of a team by a new owner. Here’s a brief overview of the history of the 10 2020 Formula 1 teams, in no particular order.
Mercedes has previously competed in Formula 1 in 1954 and 1955, pulling out after the terrible accident in Le Mans. The origins of the current Mercedes F1 team lie with Tyrrell. Tyrrell started as Formula 3 team in 1958. Ken Tyrrell moved to Formula 1 in 1968, with the first F1 car to bear his name launched in 1970. The early ’70s brought one constructors’ and two drivers’ championships. Tyrrell was bought by British American Tobacco in 1997, changing the team’s name to British American Racing in 1999. Engine supplier Honda bought BAR at the end of 2005. After Honda announced their withdrawal at the end of 2008, it was bought by Ross Brawn, and became the surprise champion of the 2009 season. Brawn GP was acquired by Mercedes in 2010. Mercedes had previously supplied McLaren with engines, starting in 1995.
Ferrari has raced in Formula One since 1950, Ferrari has won 15 drivers’ and 16 constructors’ championships, with the most dominant period being the Schumacher years from 2000 to 2004.
Red Bull’s history starts with Stewart racing, founded by Jackie Stewart and his son Paul and competing in the 1997 to 1999 Formula 1 seasons. And the end of 1999, Stewart was acquired by Ford and renamed Jaguar racing. Red Bull acquired the team at the end of 2004, after having previously sponsored Sauber for 10 years. Red Bull has won four drivers’ and constructors’ championships, from 2010 to 2013, with Sebastian Vettel.
Alpine is the new name of Renault’s F1 team. The origins lie with the Toleman F1 team, which competed from 1981 to 1985, until purchased by Benetton. Benetton won two drivers’ and one constructors’ championship, with Michael Schumacher. Engine supplier Renault acquired the team in 2002, and changed the name in 2002. Two more drivers’ and constructors’ championships followed, with Fernando Alonso as driver. From 2012 to 2015, the name was changed to Lotus F1, but reverted back to Renault in 2016.
McLaren was founded by Bruce McLaren in 1963, making it the second-oldest team on the grid. It has won 12 drivers’ and 8 constructors’ championships. The era of modern McLaren started with the involvement of Ron Dennis, since 1981. McLaren was a dominant team in the turbo era, and later saw success partnered with Mercedes, including the first world championship of Lewis Hamilton, in 2008. Mercedes is back as engine supplier in 2021.
Aston Martin is the new name for Racing Point. Aston Martin was previously represented on Red Bull’s cars. The origins lie with Jordan, which competed in Formula One from 1991 to 2005. The team was bought and competed as Midland F1 in 2006, then Spyker in 2007. From 2008 on, the team was called Force India, until the acquisition by Racing Point late in 2018. The name Racing Point was used in 2019 and 2020.
Williams, founded in 1977, is actually the third Formula One team in which founder Frank Williams was involved. Williams has since won 7 drivers’ and 9 constructor’s championships, with the last championships having been won in 1997. The ’80s and ’90s were the most successful decades. The Williams family has stepped out of the team in 2020, but the name remains in use by the new owners.
Haas started out as Virgin Racing in 2010, being renamed Marussia Virgin in 2011, Marussia in 2010, and Manor Marussia in 2015. The remains of the team were bought by Haas in 2015, with the team competing under this name since 2016.
Alpha Tauri traces its history back to Minardi. Minardi competed in F1 from 1985 to 2005, often finishing last. The team was then acquired by Red Bull as its junior team and renamed Toro Rosso. For 2020, the name of the team was changed to Alpha Tauri, Red Bull’s fashion label.
Alfa Romeo has competed in Grand Prix racing since before the second World War, including cars run by Ferrari before Enzo Ferrari started building cars after WWII. The current Alfa Romeo F1 team is run by Sauber. Sauber first gained fame in sports car racing, but started in Formula One in 1993. Red Bull started sponsoring the team in 1995, a deal that would last until the formation of Red Bull’s own team. BMW bought the majority of the shares in 2006 with a resulting renaming of the team to BMW Sauber. BMW decided to sell their share in 2009, with Peter Sauber himself taking over, and the team taking Toyota’s slot on the grid – but as a name change had not yet been applied for, the team computed as BMW Sauber in 2010, despite there not being any involvement from BMW. For 2018, the team was renamed to Alfa Romeo.