When it was made public knowledge via the dulcet tones of Radio Le Mans’ John Hindaugh at this year’s opening round of the WEC season at Silverstone, that Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber had supposedly signed a 5-year deal with the works LMP1 Porsche team for 2014,”Silly Season” in F1 was waiting in the wings to truly pounce.
As Mark officially decided to announce that he was to leave Formula One at the end of this year, as the British Grand Prix weekend got underway, the 36-year-old veteran said, “it was the right time for a new challenge.” We all had a clear understanding that it was more than just wanting to move onto greener pastures, as internal politics at Red Bull were just a part of the big story that seemed to force his hand. But that is another story all together…
The rumours that circled the F1 ‘carcass’ subsequently started to reveal themselves, as several drivers of the current roster have been tipped to replace the likeable rogue, who has been able to speak his mind. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo stepped up his game to impress the bosses at Milton Keynes, whereas Jean-Eric Vergne seemed to be counted out already. However, the French driver had the upper hand on his team mate when it came to points, but seemed to be written out of the equation from the early running.
When you think about the way that Sebastian Vettel made his way to Milton Keynes was via Toro Rosso, especially with that dominant win at Monza in 2008 from pole position seemed to help pave the way for future Red Bull Junior Team members towards their goal of getting into F1 one day, which currently includes the likes of Antonio Felix da Costa, Dani Kvyat, Carlos Sainz. Jr and young Dutch female sensation Beitke Visser.
But as usual, the Formula One headlines always seem to provide those twists in the tale, as it always seems to keep everyone guessing as to just who goes where next season. Kimi Raikkonen was the next man to be mentioning in the running for the second seat at Red Bull, especially as the fact that Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg had been open about talking with Lotus and vice versa earlier on this year about potentially looking a ride for 2014.
But even further to that, the 2007 F1 World Champion has been linked, supposedly via Finnish website “Ilta Sanomat,” with a deal back to Scuderia Ferrari for next year. In some respects, this is probably not the logical choice for the “Flying Finn,” as he seems at peace with his current employers, as well as Maranello saying that there is no real truth to it. This is mainly because he turns up to the race track, and does what he does best – get behind the wheel and drive, and have not that much involvement with the media.
Fernando Alonso has also been rumoured with the other seat at Red Bull, even though he has been at the Scuderia for the last 3 and a half years after his move from Renault. The Spanish double world champion’s manager Luis Garcia Abad had held informal talks with Christian Horner at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which showed that there potentially still is an issue at the Scuderia for its future line-up.
The issue stems from two major points. Firstly, Alonso was critical in a diplomatic sense of just how the F138, Ferrari’s 2013 challenger, is currently performing, with Maranello also saying they are again having issues with wind tunnels shortly after. Then the public rebuttal by Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo showed that Alonso was not the main component of what Ferrari stands for within Formula One, when it comes to their success over the decades, as it is all about the team from their standpoint. So all may not be well with the Prancing Horse… Time will be a telling factor in this, whatever happens.
But in closing, the main catalyst for all the pieces to fall into place for what will become the 2014 F1 driver line-up will ultimately be the decision that Infiniti Red Bull Racing will make within the next few weeks, so it remains to be seen, as to whether the current triple world champions go with vigour and youth, or will another experienced hand be the one to make the team make further strides towards a successful future. We’ll find out very soon…