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GP Week : Issue 188
MW lETS IT SlIP? Departing driver Mark Webber may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag as to who will replace him at Red Bull in 2014. Confusion had persisted over the identity of Sebastian Vettel’s 2014 teammate, despite breathless mid-year break reports that Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso were all moments away from confirming a deal –the deal that will start the driver dominoes falling for 2014. The F1 paddock has been rife with speculation over who will slot into the most coveted seat on the grid ever since Webber used the British Grand Prix to confirm that he would be leaving the sport to spearhead Porsche’s Le Mans effort. Comments made by Raikkonen’s manager recently implied that talks with Red Bull had fallen by the wayside before an agreement had been reached: “ T he negotiations with Red Bull were not successful and ended some time ago,” Steve Robertson told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. With Raikkonen seemingly out of the running it indicated that the road was clear for Ricciardo – a long-time member of Red Bull’s young driver programme – to make the step up to the championship-dominating team. Germany’s Sport Bild went so far as to report that Ricciardo’s promotion would be confirmed during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. But in interactions with the media in the run-up to the race, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner refused to rule Raikkonen out of the running, and also said that the list of candidates under consideration was longer than had been publicly suggested. “You have to make sure you consider all the options and there's more options than you would possibly think,” Horner said. “ T here's been quite a lot of interest. So we'll just take the time. It's not going to be much longer I would have thought. By Monza or shortly after we should be clear.” At Spa, Ricciardo insisted that nothing was confirmed and that a move to Red Bull was not a done deal. “I'm not going to assume anything. For me there is still a seat up for grabs,” said Ricciardo, who is contesting his second full season in the sport after having made his debut with backmarkers HRT in the middle of 2011. “Obviously there is a bit of excitement around, but there is nothing further to say from what I knew in Budapest. I think I've learned that until something is signed, sealed and delivered nothing is ever concrete. “T here's still my team-mate Jean- Eric, who as far as I'm concerned isn't out of the picture, and a lot of other drivers on the grid with pretty good credentials. Until something comes from [Red Bull], I'm not going to start celebrating or getting my hopes up.” However, in an unguarded moment, inter viewed by Australian television at Spa, Mark Webber himself may have spilt the beans, confirming that “the decision is made. We all know who it is. I’m happy with that decision. It’s good for him and it’s good for Australia.” Go Daniel? F1 >>> nEWs 6 GPWEEK.com // 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: