In the wake of the Multi-21 fiasco, questions have been asked regarding Mark Webber’s seat. While the Aussie may remain at the team for the rest of the season, it is predicted that he will call time on his career at the end of the season. Subsequently, replacements have been suggested, while team owner Dietrich Mateschitz has admitted that Kimi Raikkonen is a prime candidate to partner Sebastian Vettel in the future.
Following the controversy of Malaysia, it seems unlikely that Webber will wish to remain at Red Bull. He has become disillusioned by the team, however, Christian Horner maintains that there is “no doubt” that Webber will continue with the team until his contract end.
Toro Rosso have the job of giving young Red Bull talent the vital experience needed to make the transition to the top team less daunting. However, the underwhelming performances of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne so far, may prompt the team to look elsewhere in order to find the appropriate driver. Mateschitz has suggested that Kimi Raikkonen is currently on the Red Bull radar.
The team owner stated, “Kimi is cool and fast and always a candidate.” This surprising statement carries even greater emphasis since it is from Mateschitz himself. The team owner is famed for being quiet, (unlike the advisory, Dr Helmut Marko), meaning that when he does speak out, it usually attracts attention.
While Raikkonen was mentioned, Mateschitz acknowledged that Mark Webber would be given the option of extending his current contract with the team. “Whether he retires, only he will choose but Mark is definitely a candidate for 2014,” the Austrian continued. In addition, he did not discount the young Toro Rosso drivers. If either one can perform consistently well throughout the season, outperforming the lackluster STR8, they could snatch the illustrious position alongside Vettel. Sebastian has proved that the path from Toro Rosso to Red Bull can be a fruitful one. Mateschitz said, “He [Webber] is always welcome with us, so too would be a quick junior like Jean-Eric Vergne or Daniel Ricciardo from the Toro Rosso team. Sorry, I know it’s a diplomatic answer which leaves everything open, but that’s how it is. Everything else is pure speculation.”
What is evident, is that Red Bull have plenty of options. Kimi Raikkonen would no doubt be an excellent accolade to the team. Moreover, he will know many of the figures behind the scenes after being partnered by Red Bull in his two years of Rallying. With his contract at Lotus running out at the end of the season, Red Bull will have a window of opportunity to steal Lotus’ star man. However, it is to be anticipated that Webber will have first refusal on the second seat at the team. Will he want to stay with Red Bull following the recent drama?