SILVERSTONE, June 29th, 2013 (F1Plus / Rosie Baillie) - Despite Mark Webber only announcing his retirement from Formula One on Thursday, Christian Horner already has three prospective drivers lined up: Kimi Raikkonen, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.
At the end of the season Raikkonen will find himself out of a contract with Lotus and seems like the obvious choice to replace Webber. During Friday’s press conference Horner confirmed that the Milton Keynes based team were considering the Finn, saying, “Kimi Raikkonen is a driver you would be foolish to ignore.”
The two Toro Rosso drivers will also find themselves fighting for the place and trying to follow in the footsteps of reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who graduated to Red Bull from Toro Rosso in 2009.
Red Bull’s own Test Driver Sebastien Buemi was ruled out by Horner, who admitted, “He’s not a contender for the race seat at Red Bull.”
The opinion amongst the fans at least is that while Kimi Raikkonen seems like the best choice it’s unclear how the relationship between Vettel and Raikkonen would work. While they’re close friends off track their relationship may change drastically if Vettel expects the Finn to play number two driver.
During Friday’s press conference Horner was questioned about whether he was looking for a driver to support Vettel or someone who would challenge him, to which he replied, “We want the best driver we can possibly get. Sebastian wants to be challenged, wants to be pushed and from our perspective there are two championships."
Horner gave nothing else away saying that the team were going to take their time and “evaluate the options available to us and try to make the best decision we can.” The team can be expected to make a decision “later in the summer.”
On Thursday Webber was asked about whether he was bothered about who would replace him, to which he simply replied “I’ll watch with interest.”