Sebastian Vettel will be a Red Bull driver for at least another two seasons, with an option to stay for 2012 as well.
The 22 year old German has developed in the last 12 months into one of the sport’s leading drivers and with Red Bull producing a race winning car this year the combination has become very strong.
His decision to stay is no great surprise but it is timely as the driver market is starting to really kick in now and this announcement needed to be made to stop any speculation about Vettel’s future. Mark Webber was recently announced for another year so Red Bull has a strong driver line up. The key for them now is to stay at F1’s top table on a technical level. In Adrian Newey they have a top level engineering boss and there is no reason why they should go backwards next year with so much stability. The same question has to be asked about Brawn; can they keep it up?
This year the definition of what constitutes a Top Team has been blurred, with Ferrari, McLaren and Renault dropping behind Red Bull and Brawn. But the rate of progress at McLaren in particular indicates that next year they will be stronger.
Interestingly if you compare the tone of the Vettel announcement with the one made about Webber recently the headline today announces that “Vettel commits to Red Bull”, which very much talks up the driver, whereas the Webber one said, “Webber to drive for Red Bull” which is quite neutral (and unimaginative!)
There is a subtle slant towards Vettel in that team because he is the product of the young driver programme rather than an experienced gun for hire, like Webber. This makes the close battle between them all the more fascinating as Webber stubbornly digs in and keeps delivering the results.