Who will replace Webber at Red Bull in 2014?

Debates and Polls

Mark Webber has confirmed he will not race for Red Bull in 2014, leaving a vacancy at one of F1’s top teams.

Red Bull have won the constructors’ championship for the last three years in a row, have the full backing of Renault and the design genius of Adrian Newey. A seat in an RB10 will be coveted by almost every driver on the grid.

But it comes with a string attached – and it’s a big one. It means going up against Sebastian Vettel, winner of the last three drivers’ championships. Aside from being brutally fast Vettel wields considerable political clout within Red Bull and is strongly backed by motorsport director Helmut Marko.

Who has the combination of speed and mental toughness to take Webber’s place? Here’s a shortlist of possible candidates.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2013Only yesterday Christian Horner admitted the 2007 world champion was a potential candidate for the seat. Raikkonen’s two-year Lotus deal expires at the end of this season.

Although Raikkonen has enjoyed success with Lotus, winning two races, he may have grown frustrated at their shortcomings. His own race engineer admitted after the Canadian Grand Prix they had let him down with a series of car problems plus a blunder in the pits.

Red Bull offer greater financial security than Lotus and potentially a better deal for him. He has a good relationship with Vettel. But would this notoriously publicity-averse driver be willing to tolerate an increase in PR and media work that is likely to come with being aligned to Infiniti?

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull’s much-vaunted young driver development programme exists to supply new talent to the top team. Red Bull go to the unprecedented lengths of having a second team in F1 serving this purpose. If the programme cannot rise to the occasion it will be seen to have failed.

So there may be internal pressure within Red Bull to promote one of the two Toro Rosso pilots. Daniel Ricciardo began this season with the upper hand over team mate Jean-Eric Vergne.

Jean-Eric Vergne

It turns out Vergne’s career-best sixth place in Canada last week could not have been more timely. It moved him ahead of Ricciardo in the points standings. If he can build on that momentum, perhaps he could do enough to secure promotion to the top team.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Melbourne, 2013Showed potential with both Williams and Force India before this year’s ill-timed switch to Sauber. As well as him being quick, signing Hulkenberg may have the added appeal to Red Bull of disrupting Ferrari’s future plans as he is believed to be on their radar.

Paul di Resta

A former team mate of Vettel’s who beat him to the 2006 F3 Euroseries crown. Di Resta has proven himself to be a solid midfield runner for Force India and the team recently said they would let him go if a top outfit wanted to sign him.

Valtteri Bottas

He’s just seven races into his F1 career but has arguably shown more potential than Ricciardo or Vergne with a remarkable third on the grid in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Antonio Felix da Costa

Six months ago the idea that Red Bull’s development driver Antonio Felix da Costa could ‘do a Hamilton’ and vault straight into a top team might not have seemed so far-fetched. He set the Formula Renault 3.5 scene on fire after his mid-season promotion, winning a string of races.

But his first full season in the championship hasn’t gone to plan so far. He’s won just once and lies third in the championship due to a combination of unreliability and driver error. It’s a situation reminiscent of that experienced by one of his predecessors on the young driver programme: Sebastian Vettel.

Da Costa is more likely to be next in line for a Toro Rosso seat should one of their regulars get Webber’s place.

Over to you

Who do you think will join Vettel at Red Bull next year? Have your say in the comments.

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162 comments on Who will replace Webber at Red Bull in 2014?

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  1. Terry Saunders (@) said on 27th June 2013, 11:33

    I’d put in a strong word for Grumpy Paul Di Resta. He has shone this year on occasion and clearly is chomping at the bit to get in a top team after missing out this year. And he’s less of a star than Kimi which would prob make Seb feel less threatened.

    • Traverse (@) said on 27th June 2013, 11:54

      prob make Seb feel less threatened.

      The Vet is incapable of feeling fear! Only us mere mortals suffer the debilitants’. ;)

    • nackavich (@nackavich) said on 27th June 2013, 11:57

      But then every time Vettel beats him we’d have to put with Paul whinging about how he beat Vettel.. in F3.. 7 years ago..

    • BradandCoffee said on 27th June 2013, 12:55

      But if you look at the 2nd half of last year, Hulk wiped the floor with him pretty well in the same machinery.

      In the 2nd half of last season Hulk scored 44 points to DiResta’s 19.

    • Mclarengal (@mclarengal) said on 27th June 2013, 17:45

      To be honest, I very much doubt any of the top team will touch Paul Di Resta.

      I’m not suggesting he’s a bad driver, but he has a horrible attitude and has been very outspoken about how he perceives his current team constantly letting him down.

      Whether this is true or not, he lacks media training and charisma and, although that doesn’t necessarily affect his driving abilities, it does impact on sponsorship.

  2. scratt (@scratt) said on 27th June 2013, 11:36

    Paul Di Resta deserves the shot.
    I am a huge Kimi fan (and I think he would be attracted to Red Bull as he has a relationship with them already, and the money will be much better) but I think we’ll see better racing from him at Lotus tbh. So I’d rather he stayed there.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th June 2013, 12:35

      @scratt

      Paul Di Resta deserves the shot.

      Why?

      All he’s done is be beaten by his team-mates, believed his own hype and made excuses for his under-performance that avoid criticising the team so that he can keep his options open for when the top drive that he feels he is entitled to come along.

      • mhop (@mhop) said on 28th June 2013, 1:15

        @prisoner-monkeys
        Here’s an alternative interpretation…. di Resta is someone who consistently races at an extremely high level.

        In 2011 he had the most impressive debut season since Hamilton in ’07: scoring in his first two races, immediately matching his experienced teammate’s pace, completing more laps over the season than any other competitor… and all of that coming straight out of touring cars!

        And in 2012 for 14 rounds he quite comprehensively outpaced F1’s other great talent Hulkenberg. The last six races were a dip, but there were stated reasons for that, and now in 2013 he’s going from stride-to-stride again.

        Also look at where Force India have come in di Resta’s time there. Surely as primary development driver di Resta deserves credit for this success? By contrast just look at the how those teams who, in recent years, employed drivers based on the size of the cheque-book more than the size of their talent are now doing (Williams, Sauber…).

        I don’t think di Resta will get this seat, but if he did he would absolutely deserve it.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 28th June 2013, 22:28

          @mhop

          Di Resta 2011 the most impressive debut season since Hamilton? Vettel in 07/08 pulled much more unexpected performance out of his car. Even Glock I’d say, in 2008 was more impressive than PdR, up against Trulli.

      • Pennyroyal tea (@peartree) said on 28th June 2013, 3:11

        @prisoner-monkeys He beat Vettel in F3 though. I want Hulk there, I think the fact he is German and young shouldn’t deter Red Bull for giving him proper support.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 28th June 2013, 10:36

          @peartree – Yeah, seven years ago. In a spec series that is massively underpowered compared to Formula 1.

          • Pennyroyal tea (@peartree) said on 29th June 2013, 5:58

            @prisoner-monkeys I’m not resting my case in just on factor, besides Di Resta is outpacing Sutil as he should do. Hamilton also beat Vettel, so are you going to say that Hamilton is rubbish as Di Resta is. Di Resta may have a bad temper I’m not going to contest that, but I was just stating some facts to prove that Di Resta is no Pedro Diniz. From a marketing perspective it would be nice as well to have a British driver again on Red Bull

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 29th June 2013, 9:24

            @peartree

            I’m not resting my case in just on factor, besides Di Resta is outpacing Sutil as he should do.

            He might be beating Sutil now, but he was beaten by Sutil in 2011 and Hulkenberg in 2012.

            Di Resta may have a bad temper I’m not going to contest that, but I was just stating some facts to prove that Di Resta is no Pedro Diniz.

            Di Resta’s problem isn’t that he has a bad temper, it’s that he refuses to do anything that he thinks might ruin his chances with a bigger and better team. He never criticises anyone in the team, and always goes out of his way to explain why his poor performances are bad luck. He always seem to have conditions turn bad on him at the worst possible moment, or run into traffic, or have his tyres go off. Di Resta never says or does anything that he thinks could lower his standing in the eyes of a future employer. Can you see him driving this year’s McLaren? He’d insist nothing was wrong.

            From a marketing perspective it would be nice as well to have a British driver again on Red Bull

            For the British market, maybe. But Red Bull are at the point of what we call brand saturation: it doesn’t matter what they do, they cannot get any more marketing exposure. They’re already a household name, and since they’re at the front end of the grid, they’re not going to pick up more coverage during the races (just look at how much more coverage Marussia have compared to previous years now that they have a British driver – the effect is negligible). So they’ll make a decision based on what is best for them, rather than based on marketing opportunities.

          • Pennyroyal tea (@peartree) said on 30th June 2013, 2:54

            @prisoner-monkeys I don’t want elongate this thread much further but I had to mention that Di Resta is know for his harsh comments about F1, especially just after he gets out of the car. I just wanted you to read this this this and this. However I agree when you say that marketing wise there not enough interest to put Di Resta in a Red Bull but there is no harm either.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 27th June 2013, 14:33

      Why Paul Di Resta???

      He isn’t better than Sutil or the Hulk. He’s probably at par with Ricciardo and JEV, but that isn;t saying much.

      We are talking about the top seat in the sport right now.. and Paul just doesn’t cut it. Kimi seems like the most obvious choice, followed by the Hulk and maybe Bianchi

    • Howard (@howard) said on 28th June 2013, 2:01

      I can’t stand PDR’s self entitled arrogant attitude, which team wants that?

  3. Linda1 said on 27th June 2013, 11:37

    If they don’t go with one of the STR drivers then whats the point of STR?

    • Rooney (@rojov123) said on 27th June 2013, 11:48

      It is a sort of very expensive “testing” team. The two Torro Rosso drivers are test divers. All the data is sent to the Red Bull team.

      • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 27th June 2013, 14:55

        @rojov123 I disagree entirely: Toro Rosso’s data will be almost completely useless for the senior team because they have completely different chassis. Trying to factor out the differences in the cars (not to mention the fact the RB9 has vastly more downforce) would just be needlessly complicated and not worth the effort. Besides, Toro Rosso evidently have an inferior car and so the data would also be inferior!

      • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 27th June 2013, 17:11

        Toro Rosso haven’t been sharing data with Red Bull for 2 or 3 years now, they are their own entity. They obviously receive sponsorship and drivers from Red Bull, but the technical and systems performance management side of things (at the track) are completely separate.

    • Resort2Spa (@resort2spa) said on 27th June 2013, 16:23

      I would go for Daniel Ricciardo for a number of reasons.

      * His 1 lap pace for qualifying, in the dry weather, is consistently better than JEV, and let’s face it… Formula 1 is a summer sport.
      * There race day performances are too tight to call (perhaps JEV shades him)
      and… for me, the most important factor is image
      * Daniel Ricciardo is very approachable, affable, media savvy and a perfect fit for a energetic Red Bull brand. JEV comes across as broody and unapproachable and well we all know about Kimi.

    • soko (@soko) said on 27th June 2013, 22:22

      I don’t see why bypassing the Toro Rosso drivers means the program would have “failed.” This isn’t football or basketball with big teams – there are only two seats at Red Bull. The program has already succeeded beyond expectations by putting Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel in one of those seats and delivering three world championships. Why would you expect more than this in a span of just 5 or 6 years? Plus, putting one of the current STR drivers in the Red Bull over Raikkonen is saying that one of those guys is better than Kimi. I’m not sure that it’s true, and I think you have to take Kimi if you can get him even if it means your Toro Rosso drivers aren’t really progressing with their careers, otherwise you are turning Red Bull into another driver development program…

      And as for him being grumpy about sponsor commitments, I think any driver in the world would learn how to deal with it when they are in contention for Formula 1 victory every weekend!

  4. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 27th June 2013, 11:37

    It’s got to be one of the Toro Rosso guys. Otherwise the whole programme makes no sense at all. As long as Vettel’s there, they’d want a clear number two, and that’s probably what they’d get in JEV or Riciarrdo.

    As for Kimi? I don’t see it happening. Kimi’s had enough of politics at McLaren and Ferrari. That’s why he left in 2009 and why he likes driving for Lotus so much. I don’t see why he’d leave to go to Red Bull to be alongside Vettel when Lotus aren’t doing badly at all.

    • scratt (@scratt) said on 27th June 2013, 11:40

      I agree. But Kimi likes money. ;)

      • Nick (@npf1) said on 27th June 2013, 11:46

        Not as much as freedom and doing what he wants; he has enough money to do that already.

      • BDP said on 27th June 2013, 12:28

        Kimi may like the money, but Red Bull does not pay top dollar to drivers,, they put more into the team and car as a whole.
        So if he wants money, go knock on Ferrari’s door.

    • BradandCoffee said on 27th June 2013, 12:59

      The programme has already justified itself by producing Vettel. I don’t think they need to force one of their drivers in at this point while Vettel is still walking proof of the programme’s success.

    • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 27th June 2013, 16:29

      I don’t see why he’d leave to go to Red Bull.

      To have a shot for the WDC (if RB hires him, forget about team orders)

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 27th June 2013, 17:26

      As for Kimi? I don’t see it happening. Kimi’s had enough of politics at McLaren and Ferrari. That’s why he left in 2009 and why he likes driving for Lotus so much. I don’t see why he’d leave to go to Red Bull to be alongside Vettel when Lotus aren’t doing badly at all.

      I agree.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th June 2013, 18:42

      That’s what logic dictates. But I am not really sure about that @magnificent-geoffrey. I think Red Bull will try and get Kimi, although I am not completely sure Kimi will like it, as he seems to having a good time at LotusF1 (and them getting Brunei &Co. on board surely strengthens their financial position).

      I like the Idea of getting Hulkenberg. He has shown he is fast, he seems to be good at technical feedback, and he could have enough talent to keep the team with a stable line-up over several years, when Vettel inevitably looks on to new challenges

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th June 2013, 18:50

        I forgot to add, that I think they could be going for Pastor Maldonado in the second car. He’s a proven race winner, and has ample pace, as well as offering the potential of getting Red Bull on the market in South America!

        What do you think of that one?

  5. Nick (@npf1) said on 27th June 2013, 11:43

    I think Kimi is unlikely to go to Red Bull. He seems to be happy where he’s at as far as the team goes and with a recent investment, they might convince him to stay. The PR, but also the politics of Marko and co. could prove to be off-putting for Kimi.

    I’d consider Hulkenberg to be a more likely candidate if he wasn’t German. Next to my gut feeling, I also suspect Nico perhaps isn’t experienced enough. Experience is also a major factor why I don’t see Bottas joining. Da Costa and Red Bull will want to avoid doing a Hamilton; it had a negative impact on him as a person to start off in a winning car.

    Di Resta simply hasn’t shown enough fireworks to be likely to go to Red Bull. Not due to being Scottish, but he reminds me of DC; talented, but not so much he can challenge the top on merit alone.

    It’s between the Toro Rosso boys in my eyes and to be frank, I don’t see a decision any time soon.

    • AbeyG (@1abe) said on 27th June 2013, 14:19

      Di Resta simply hasn’t shown enough fireworks to be likely to go to Red Bull.

      Maybe he can take the Red Bull team and go to New York on the 4th of July weekend to show them some fireworks! Its really awesome!

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 27th June 2013, 16:28

      Hulkenburg has just as much experience in F1 as PDR and technically, more experience than Riccardo and JEV.

    • Wil-Liam (@wil-liam) said on 27th June 2013, 21:17

      now.
      Lotus is definitely improving….But Red bull is at the top.
      lotus budget limited……Red bull infinite budget.
      Lotus did bring him back at F1…..Red bull backed him up since leaving ferrari. (Rally time)
      Lotus gives more freedom……..Red bull limited freedom MORE MoNey.

      LOTUS LOST JAMES ALLISON……. RED BULL STILL HAS ADRIAN NEWEY.

      So the choice….Thankfully I wouldn’t be the one making.

    • rudi (@rudi) said on 28th June 2013, 9:49

      Nobody else would fit better into the sales promotion policy of Red Bull than Kimi :)
      Renault is probably the team most experienced with Turbo-engines, but thats no advantage since Renault offers the same material to RB.
      We could all look forward to see the first driver since Vettels appearance in F1 to show him the way.
      It looks bad for Lotus to keep Kimi, I hate to see him go.

  6. Girts (@girts) said on 27th June 2013, 11:47

    I believe that Raikkonen is a serious candidate. I think that his dislike for PR stuff often gets exaggerated (partly by himself) and also that his attitude has changed after the sabbatical. Even before that, he spent 8 years with teams that he theoretically should hate, according to his image. I’m not saying that Red Bull’s PR events are going to make Raikkonen happy but he certainly wants to be in a car that’s capable of winning championships and I don’t think Lotus will ever be able to give him one, mainly because of the lack of money and also the recent loss of James Allison.

    • I agree. Initially I was very sceptical of the Raikkonen to RBR stories for precisely that reason, but the one thing Raikkonen has consistently said above everything else in interviews is that he wants the best possible car. Red Bull are more likely to give him that; the engine regulations may be changing next season but the aerodynamics aren’t greatly, and Lotus and Red Bull will be using the same engine anyway so it’s not like choosing between Mercedes/Ferrari powered cars and the Renault engine.

      James Allison going and the impact it has on Lotus’ fortunes over the rest of the season will surely have the biggest bearing on Raikkonen’s decision. If results continue to tail away I can definitely see Raikkonen taking a chance on moving to Red Bull., even though he will lose number one status. He will probably have the time to wait and see as well as I can only see Red Bull delaying the decision as long as possible to see who seems the better bet out of Ricciardo or Vergne.

    • Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 27th June 2013, 13:49

      I’ll save my assessment until next few race, see if Lotus can be bounce back. Remember they just got new lucrative investor. They won’t let driver of that calibre just go to the rival. But Kimi has given impression that he want to win championship again.
      If Lotus form were not going to improve, Kimi would move. Adrian Newey should design another mega car to pay his unreliable design at McLaren that Kimi drove.

  7. I think that Red Bull should make a “shootout” between the Toro Rosso drivers (Vergne & Ricciardo) plus one of the kids on the program, like Antonio Felix da Costa. At least they should have a chance for the place, rather than Kimi and others.

    • Bio said on 27th June 2013, 15:17

      Vandoorne is kicking Da Costa’s **** all the way down to Portugal, I’m not sure he’s as good as you all might think…

    • TMF (@tmf42) said on 27th June 2013, 16:12

      Frankly da Costa disappoints in Formula 3.5 this year. Imo, he should still be given a seat at TR but he hasn’t shown enough to fast track him into a RB.
      Dani and JEV are obvious choices but I wouldn’t discount Buemi completely.

  8. dmp (@dmp) said on 27th June 2013, 11:54

    Kubica!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th June 2013, 11:56

      @dmp Kubica himself has said he can’t get enough movement in an F1 car cockpit given the damage to his arm. Would love to see him back in F1 but for now it seems unlikely.

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 27th June 2013, 15:33

      I agree with Keith. Kubica still seems to be very quick in WRC-2 and I think eventually a team will give him the opportunity of an F1 drive again. I did predict he’d drive for Lotus next year, some time back, but maybe either 2015 or 16 seems most likely.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th June 2013, 11:55

    Honestly, I think Red Bull are their own worst enemy and will only get a driver who has no choice. They might be able to produce race-winning cars, but between the way they have structured their team around Vettel and the constant vitirol that Webber has been subjected from Helmut Marko to would probably make that seat the most undesirable on the grid. Only a masochist would willingly sign themseves up to that.

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 27th June 2013, 13:55

      @prisoner-monkeys
      You could say the same about Ferrari during Schumacher or Alonso era, but then again we have had Irvine, Barrichello and Massa driving for them for years.

      Every driver wants a car that they can win with. I believe almost every driver bar Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg would gladly join RBR. Only those drivers have a good position in a team that is most likely going to be fighting for victories next year.

      I bet even Webber is happy for driving Red Bull all these year rather than, for instance, Williams.

      • trublu (@trublu) said on 27th June 2013, 18:25

        I wonder how things would have shaken out if Webber had decided to retire last year. I’d bet Hamilton would have taken less money to land Webber’s seat. The idea of Vettel and Hamilton using the same equipment is way too exciting to fathom. Sadly, that will never happen.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 27th June 2013, 14:58

      I dont think you may have grasped how desperate some are to win @prisoner-monkeys. Red Bull will let their own drivers (as in the Toro Rosso driver who is likely to graduate) fight it out I’m pretty sure as that boosts the brand and besides, they are no Ferrari when it comes to team structures!

    • Jon Sandor (@jonsan) said on 27th June 2013, 15:31

      between the way they have structured their team around Vettel and the constant vitirol that Webber has been subjected

      Strange words, from an Alonso fan. Ferrari are built around Alonso to a far greater extent than RB are around Vettel. And poor Massa is in a far worse position than Webber has been.

  10. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 27th June 2013, 11:59

    Clearly Hulkenberg is the most likely candidate. For those that read a recent AUTOSPORT article in which Ed Straw argued that Raikkonen was the perfect person for Red Bull, you will remember that this hypothesis was solely based on the fact that he and Vettel get on and that he once wore Red Bull overalls in WRC. I simply cannot envisage Raikkonen going to Red Bull. Why would Raikkonen leave a team that is a) providing him with a great car, b) not putting any pressure on him to do the commercial stuff he so hates and c) is definitely getting the best out of him? Why would he leave that team to go to a high pressure commercial environment, if, in all reality, that team does not have an all that greater chance of taking the title in 2014 when the influence of the new engines come into play than his former team? Raikkonen’s only motives are a) cash, and b) the aerodynamic efficiency of Newey’s cars, something that’ll be of reduced influence next year anyway. And anyway, Raikkonen left F1 to escape the commercial nature of Ferrari. It’ll probably be worse at Red Bull. Raikkonen was only able to be coaxed back into F1 with a promise of minimal PR duties, so on what planet does it make sense that he’d leave that competitive, non-commercial team, for a marginally more competitive car and a whole load more PR? Money? I know Lotus aren’t the richest team, but I’m sure they’re paying enough to keep Kimi in premium vodka.

    Personally, I think this whole “We want Kimi” thing has all been a show, and has simply been a way of juxtaposing the Red Bull mentality to the whole Ferrari “we don’t want two cockerels in one hen-house” philosophy. But this is just folly, because Red Bull have an established #1 driver in Vettel, they don’t need another one. What Red Bull have demonstrated with the Vettel-Webber line-up in that a clear #1 and #2 works; so what Red Bull are really looking for is a #2, and I personally think they have Nico Hulkenberg, or maybe even Paul di Resta in mind. Ever since Red Bull claimed they were after Raikkonen, they have inadvertently admitted the failure of the Toro Rosso squad by not putting either of them in the frame. They are decent drivers, probably perfect for a midfield team in that they are consistent, make few mistakes and bring the points home when the car is capable of it, but Red Bull are looking for more than that. By ruling out the Toro Rosso guys Red Bull have opened up the contenders to the whole field. If Raikkonen can be linked to a Red Bull seat, I see no reason why Hulkenberg can’t be either. Nico Hulkenberg: An extremely talented driver with no contract for next year. Sign on the dotted line please.

    • oli campbell said on 27th June 2013, 13:45

      agreed

    • ferrox glideh (@ferrox-glideh) said on 27th June 2013, 15:10

      I agree that Kimi should stay put at Lotus, but wouldn’t it be cool to see Hulk take Grojeans place?
      Hulk deserves a top ride, but with new 2014 regulations it’s all a bit of a gamble and any of the top five teams might develop an early edge. Also, I can’t imagine that any friendship between Kimi and Vettel would last very long if they were teammates, but the quotes would surely be classic.

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 27th June 2013, 15:44

      Exactly. The only thing I disagree with you on is having di Resta in mind. I believe the main candidates are Ricciardo, Vergne, and Hulkenberg. I think most F1 fans would like to see Hulkenberg given his chance in a top team, because he is very talented, and it’s painful to see him struggle in that C32.
      The argument for Raikkonen joining Red Bull isn’t strong enough for me. Red Bull would clearly want a number 2 driver, and his ‘friendship’ with Vettel, or his past Red Bull backing, isn’t enough to go on.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 27th June 2013, 16:06

      I’m not sure with that:

      They are decent drivers, probably perfect for a midfield team in that they are consistent, make few mistakes and bring the points home when the car is capable of it

      Surely that’s the description of the perfect #2 driver? Consistent, doesn’t make mistakes and finishes in a decent position… Hulkenberg won’t sit back and be the #2 driver. He’ll fight for wins if he’s given a decent car.

    • Jon Sandor (@jonsan) said on 27th June 2013, 16:15

      What Red Bull have demonstrated with the Vettel-Webber line-up in that a clear #1 and #2 works

      Webber has never been a “clear #2″. He’s been the de facto No 2 driver simply by virtue of SV getting better results on track year after year, but Webber has never been the de jure No 2 as Massa is at Ferrari. It’s impossible to imagine Ferrari ever ordering Alonso to stay behind Massa, as RB ordered Vettel to stay behind Webber.

    • Yeah, why would anyone consider going to the only team capable of wining the championship for the past three year – maybe this year too??

  11. Traverse (@) said on 27th June 2013, 12:00

    It has to be Vergne, Ricciardo or Antonio Felix da Costa. If RBR go for the like of Raikkonen, di Resta etc it would undermine their entire “Driver program”.

  12. Matt-J said on 27th June 2013, 12:01

    You have to be crazy to go to Red Bull. Who ever goes there can kiss goodbye to their dreams of a world championship. That’s Vettel’s team and in the same way of Schumacher at Ferrari whoever is his team mate will play second fiddle. The only hope anyone will have is that he might bugger off to Ferrari when his Red Bull deal is done.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th June 2013, 12:04

      The last three years would suggest the reverse is true – anyone who goes anywhere else can forget about winning the world championship.

      Drivers don’t win titles without a sufficiently competitive car, and that’s what Webber’s had for the last three years.

      • Traverse (@) said on 27th June 2013, 12:16

        People blame Vet for Webber’s inadequacies and underachieving. I’m sure some people believe that Vet is somehow responsible for Webber’s infamous terrible starts.

        • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 27th June 2013, 15:32

          The team’s laser focus on Vettel has been Webber’s downfall… He’s never been entirely comfortable with the car handling since they introduced the EBD, which Vettel got his head around.

          Webber’s 2010 title challenge fell apart when they started experimenting with it (although fracturing his shoulder probably didn’t help). He started to claw back the advantage when it was banned in 2012, but when they successfully recreated the effect with their aero/DDRS system, Webber was compromised again.

          • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 27th June 2013, 16:03

            @optimaximal I don’t agree with the implication in that: the EBD effect made the car faster, and Webber in an EBD-equipped Red Bull is still faster than Webber in a non-EBD-equipped Red Bull, even though Vettel extends his advantage over him.

            Because of this, I doubt he’d have done any better elsewhere. He had to adapt and failed to do so as well as Vettel, hence why he has pretty much decimated him these last few years.

          • Jon Sandor (@jonsan) said on 27th June 2013, 16:08

            He’s never been entirely comfortable with the car handling since they introduced the EBD, which Vettel got his head around.

            Red Bull did not introduce the EBD. They copied it when it became a necessary part of F1. If Webber cannot adapt successfully to the technical changes in the sport then perhaps it’s best he quits. The notion that RB adapted things like EBD and DDRS to compromise Webber and “focus on” Vettel is just silly.

          • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 28th June 2013, 15:33

            @jonsan Who, in your mind, pioneered the EBD?

            I remember them playing with in in the latter stage of 2010, ahead of the double-diffuser ban, even running fake exhausts (stickers, if I remember) during 2011 pre-season testing in to hide what they were doing as long as possible.

  13. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 27th June 2013, 12:04

    If one of the Toro Rosso drivers get a podium in the next few races, the seat is theirs, if niether prove themselves as clearly superior to the other at STR in the next few weeks then anybody can apply. Here’s hoping the hulk can get a big break.

  14. Kimi4WDC said on 27th June 2013, 12:05

    I hope Raikkonen, but if deal falls through, I would love to see Hulkenberg given a chance. Not sure about two German drivers though.

  15. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 27th June 2013, 12:13

    Vettel – Hulkenberg should be interesting. Nico will have three years of racing in F1 under his belt, so if indeed he is as good as many suspect, he should have matured enough to be able to challenge Vettel.

    I think the seat will go to one of the Toro Rosso drivers. They will need a bit of luck with the competitivess of the car to be able to demonstrate their talent, but so far the STR has been improving. I think both Ricciardo and Vergne have shown promise over the last two years, but they’re not as consistent as Hulkenberg or Raikkonen yet, and this is what they will need to show in the second half of the season.

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