Red Bull has confirmed that Mark Webber will stay with the team for the 2013 season, putting to an end speculation that he might move to Ferrari.
The 35 year old Australian took a stirring victory on Sunday and afterwards made some tongue in cheek comments about hoping to stay in F1 next season. Clearly the deal was done before the weekend and was announced on Tuesday morning.
Webber was top of Ferrari’s list to replace Felipe Massa next season, but Red Bull has managed to hold onto him.
Holding onto Sebastian Vettel in 2014 will be the next challenge for the team. He has a complex understanding with Ferrari which could see him join the team provided that a series of performance and other clauses are met in the 2013 season by the Maranello squad. This would see him partner Fernando Alonso from 2014 onwards.
Ferrari are looking for a driver for one year, but with the possibility that he may stay longer if Vettel’s arrival is delayed.
Webber clearly considered the Ferrari opportunity carefully, but decided to stay with a known quantity, even if it’s not stated that the deal is for the two years he was looking for.
It’s not hard to see why he’s staying; Red Bull has made a massive improvement in the car this season and is set to have the upper hand in the second half of the season. A consistent run with more wins for Webber, who heads Vettel in the table, could bring him the drivers’ championship this year, so strong is the Red Bull package now.
“I’ve been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have achieved nine grand prix wins during that time,” said Webber. “I’m high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. I know the team well and I’m very comfortable here; we have grown together over the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for another season. The Team is constantly working hard to improve in all areas and we’ve shown that together we can win races. It’s great to be able to make this announcement off the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I’m looking forward to competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season.”
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner said: “Mark has driven very well in the first nine races of this season and his performance has been impressive. Much of his Formula One success has been during his time with Red Bull Racing and together we have achieved 10 poles, nine wins and 31 podiums. As there was a strong desire from both sides to continue the partnership, it was a logical decision to extend our relationship and it is with great pleasure that we confirm Mark will drive for us in 2013.”