Mark Webber has recently confirmed that he will be leaving Formula One at the end of the 2013 season to pursue a career in sports car racing with Porsche. I’ve never been Webber’s biggest fan because I’m a Vettel advocate, and also because I find him a bit whiny sometimes but I recognise that the grid is losing a massively important and well-liked driver and can see that Formula One will be a little bit sadder without him.
However, he is going, and this means there’s a free seat at Red Bull Racing.
Most people seem to believe it’s going to Kimi Raikkonen and while there’s nothing I want to see more than a Vettel/Raikkonen Red Bull, I would disagree with his signing due to the existence of Toro Rosso. Toro Rosso is Red Bull’s junior team, and is the team from which Sebastian graduated to join the Triple World Champion constructor. If Red Bull signed Kimi it would beg the question why Toro Rosso even existed if the franchise were not to promote from within. Ricciardo and Vergne have proved their speed (if not their consistency) over the past two years and I would claim that one of them deserves the spot.
I don’t think Kimi would like it much at Red Bull anyway. There would be far more media commitments and the team seems much more serious than Lotus does (from the outside at least) and I just can’t see Kimi relaxed there as much as he is at Lotus. It’s true that I’m salivating at the idea of Kimi Raikkonen in the fastest car on the grid versus the triple world champion but I just don’t think it would work long term. Plus, Kimi and Seb are good friends, and it would be a shame to ruin that relationship, because Raikkonen is not going to back down when Red Bull inevitably tell him to hold station. Although that would be very refreshing too…
There are two different scenarios to consider here. In the first, either Vergne or Ricciardo is promoted to Red Bull which would leave a seat at Toro Rosso, which I presume one of their reserve drivers would fill, or perhaps a driver from a junior formula. This keeps the rest of the grid the same.
In the second scenario, Kimi Raikkonen gains the Red Bull seat. I don’t think many of the other drivers are being considered, and hence will only review this possibility. Right, so Red Bull gain Kimi and Lotus are left with a seat. I have a feeling they may approach Paul di Resta should this be the case, opening up a space at Force India. They in turn may sign Bianchi, as they were supposed to have done at the start of the season, so a seat at Marussia would become available. Then a new driver would enter the grid thus sorting everything out neatly.
I think it’s important to consider Massa and Grosjean at this stage as well. I genuinely believe neither will have their contracts renewed at the end of this season as Massa has been too unreliable recently, what with crashing at each venue for the past few grands prix and Grosjean is just Grosjean, causing incidents left, right and centre. Had Mark Webber not decided to leave, I would have given him the seat at Ferrari, but now he’s gone, this all becomes pretty complicated.
I think this year will prove even sillier than last year’s fuss with Hamilton leaving McLaren. If I’m right and these drivers do leave or get fired, we could be in for very frantic summer as the teams reshuffle. With the radical new regulations in 2014, next year’s season will probably look very, very different to what we’ve come to expect.
I’m excited for it.