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?

  1. jodrell (@jodrell) said on 27th June 2013, 12:21

    No chance of a comeback from DC? We seem to see him driving the car on enough demos that he must still be comfortable with it ;-)

    • Merv (@) said on 27th June 2013, 14:02

      He forgot how to use his mirrors at the end, ok for going round on your own, not great in the pack.

  2. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 27th June 2013, 12:22

    Depends on situation at Lotus. A part of me would like to see Kimi wreaking havok in Red Bull, showing Mr. Finger a thing or two.

    From the young guns I’d like to see Vergne at the parent team.

    • Feuerdrache (@xenomorph91) said on 27th June 2013, 12:36

      He would show Vettel how to eat ice cream and how to party. Apart from that, he won’t be able to show him that much in terms of driving. ;)

    • I don’t think Raikkonen is good enough in qualifying any more to beat Vettel over a season. His race craft is pretty great, but not much use if your teammate is able to control the race from pole position.

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

        his qualifying has been really good this year. Often qualified in front of fernando with faster car.

        Its easy for you to say that when vettel was driving the best car. I believe he was only 2 tenth in front of Kimi at Barcelona despite driving a car with so much more downforce.

        1 thing to compare apple with orange, another thing to look into stuff more insightful.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 27th June 2013, 13:48

          And Kimi was only 2 tenths in front of Grosjean, while Vettel was half a second in front of Webber. And the RBR wasn’t exactly that good in Spain, when it wasn’t on the podium, nor on the front row.

        • I am a big Kimi fan but facts are facts. Mark Webber has been thought of as a great qualifier throughout his career, and yet Vettel has dominated him in qualifying over their 4 and a bit seasons as teammates. Vettel is up there with Senna and Clark as one of the best qualifiers of all time. Raikkonen used to be great in qualifying, but since his comeback one front row in nearly 30 races is hardly great form. His results this year in qualifying: 7th, 7th, 2nd, 9th, 4th, 5th and 9th. Not bad but hardly world beating. He often makes little mistakes

  3. Nimalas said on 27th June 2013, 12:24

    Hoping for Sutil or Hulk

  4. TMF (@tmf42) said on 27th June 2013, 12:25

    It’s gonna be Kimi, JEV or Dani – with Costa and Buemi as underdogs. All other options would undermine the drivers program.

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 27th June 2013, 15:50

      Wouldn’t going with Raikkonen also do that?

      • TMF (@tmf42) said on 27th June 2013, 17:47

        no Kimi has ties with them since 2001 and his stint at Sauber. But mainly it wouldn’t do so because he’s 34 and if they say JEV and Dani aren’t up to the task then Kimi would fill the gap until da Costa, Kvyat and others can.

        • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 27th June 2013, 20:30

          @tmf42 I knew he had ties with them from his WRC stint, but I completely forgot about the Red Bull link from 2001.
          There are many differing opinions on this. I just can’t picture him at Red Bull. I am personally hoping to see Hulkenberg at RB. I know that would undermine the drivers’ program, but they have to go with what they see the option most suitable. As they say, watch this space…

          • TMF (@tmf42) said on 27th June 2013, 20:51

            @deej92 – I see Hülkenberg at Ferrari at some point. Sauber is sort of the Ferrari farm team and given that he got the cockpit instead of Bianchi would suggest that he is next in line. But that’s just guessing.

        • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 27th June 2013, 21:12

          That potential move is realistic with, as you say, him now driving for Ferrari’s feeder team (sort of). But we have seen Perez snapped up by McLaren while at Sauber, and part of Ferrari’s driver academy, so Red Bull could still make a move.

  5. Jan (@yancheelaa) said on 27th June 2013, 12:26

    Definitely HULKENBERG

  6. Lustigson (@lustigson) said on 27th June 2013, 12:26

    Logic suggests that Red Bull pick either Ricciardo or Vergne, or perhaps Felix da Costa. But the team are in such a luxurious position that they can pick up any driver that is available — at the right price, probably — and forego their own batch.

    So, while I reckon that it’ll be one of the STR crew, it might as well be Di Resta or Hülkenberg. I would be quite surprised to see Räikkönen end up in Milton Keynes.

  7. William (@william) said on 27th June 2013, 12:31

    I hope its Dan or Jean-Eric like people have stated what is even the point of having a ‘Red Bull Sister Team’ when you are not going to elevate them into Infiniti Red Bull. I think Di Resta won’t be going there or even Hulkenberg. Raikkonen is a candidate of winning the seat. I feel like this is the end for Giedo Van Der Garde with Petrov set to race in Russia next year

  8. bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 27th June 2013, 12:34

    Kobayashi!
    Nuff said :)

  9. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 27th June 2013, 12:36

    Red Bull should sign Hulkenberg… very talented driver who could well end up Ferrari-bound so why not take him, not only does it make RB stronger, it may weaken Ferrari.
    Vettel and Hulkenberg seem to get on alright (until it kicks off on track at some point), Hulkenberg is as good as Webber and will only get better with age. I’d go for that over an ageing Kimi

  10. Yoshitsune (@yobo01) said on 27th June 2013, 12:41

    Kimi is a serious candidate, I think. If the car is very good, he can make an effort and do all the media work he has to do. He’s won races in Lotus, but he has a serious chance of winning the championship in a Red Bull.
    But we are having a major rule change next year, maybe Red Bull won’t be competitive from the start. That’s a bit of a risk for Raikkonen, maybe he wants to stay in an environment he knows and he likes.

    The battle in STR is going to be very interesting. If I had to decide between the two, I honestly wouldn’t know who to pick. Sometimes Ricciardo does well, the next race Vergne does the same, and it’s difficult to tell who is going to do a better job in a competitive car.

    I feel that Red Bull has to pick a driver from Toro Rosso. I mean, you can’t throw drivers in F1, expect them to be the next Sebastian Vettel and, if they’re not, kick them out of F1. It seems a bit rude.
    Besides, I think that 2014 will be Da Costa’s debut in F1, even if everyone expected something more from his FR 3.5 season. He’ll probably be in a Toro Rosso. Either they fire Ricciardo or Vergne, or one of them goes to Red Bull.

    Hulkenberg in a Red Bull would be fantastic, but I don’t see that happening, at the moment. I hope he gets a seat in a top team, though. Ferrari wouldn’t be bad.
    As for Di Resta, I don’t think he deserves a place in a top team yet.

  11. hehehehe… I say Fernando ALONSO.. even better… Felipe Massa… He is used to played second school boy and thats what Vettel wants. Thats if Ferrari let him go, if I was Ferrari I would lock him down one more year. It is hard to find 2nd drivers these days.

  12. DavidTyrrell said on 27th June 2013, 12:45

    I can see it being Kimi or DiResta getting the seat but more so Kimi as he’s had connections with Red Bull before. The Toro Rosso guys haven’t, I think, proven themselves enough yet. Although I can see them not having Kimi due to a certain driver who doesn’t want someone who can challenge him on the team.

  13. QuantumForce42 (@quantumforce42) said on 27th June 2013, 12:49

    JEVv over Ricc
    Di Resta is a no no
    Kimi is fine..
    Hulk might do better though..
    Bottas should try Merc/Sauber maybe..

  14. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 27th June 2013, 12:55

    One way or another, they’re going to have to find a way to get Felix da Costa in next year. That means one of the STR drivers either leaves, or goes to Red Bull (maybe even another team, which would be a first).

    If I had to guess, it’s going to be whoever comes out on top out of those two drivers, as I see more decent results coming out of STR this year. And I think that will be Daniel Ricciardo.

  15. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 27th June 2013, 13:02

    Hard one.
    I would welcome one of Red Bull’s youngsters. And it would fit their program.

    Would Hamilton do ‘a Button’ (Williams-Honda move)?

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