Three times world champion Sebastian Vettel has signed an extension to his Red Bull contract, taking it to the end of 2015.
The German, who is 25 now and will be 28 at the end of the new agreement, has been linked with long term moves to Ferrari and Mercedes in recent months, but Red Bull has been able to secure his signature on a fresh deal, albeit only another year. There have been rumours that Vettel had some kind of understanding with Ferrari. Italian sources say that Alonso has been working behind the scenes to ensure that the team does not pair him with Vettel.
A simple statement, with no quotes from Red Bull or Vettel, said:
“Infiniti Red Bull Racing is happy to confirm that World Champion Sebastian Vettel has extended his multi-year contract with the team until the end of 2015.
“A previous member of the Red Bull Junior squad, Sebastian first drove for Red Bull Racing in 2009. During his Formula One career, the 25-year-old has achieved 29 wins, 51 podiums and 39 pole positions. He is the current Formula One World Champion and also a triple World Champion, having retained the title since he first won it in 2010.”
Its simplicity is a statement of strength; Vettel is not leaving the team and will race for a further two seasons before the subject of his future arises.
However 2015 will come around soon enough and from Vettel’s side this is not a long term commitment, like the five year contract Fernando Alonso made with Ferrari in 2011. Vettel will have been mindful of the position of Adrian Newey and the contract period is likely to be similar to that of the design genius.
In other words, its a cagey deal this one. Nudging the relationship forward, rather than a long term statement of commitment.
Alonso is committed to the Scuderia to the end of 2016, so the contract is not aligned with Vettel’s.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes contract is aligned with Vettel’s, three years starting this season.
Now Red Bull turns its attention to the other car. There is speculation that Mark Webber is set to leave the team and be replaced by Kimi Raikkonen. After the Malaysian Grand Prix fallout with Vettel, Webber’s place in the team has been questioned and today’s announcement makes clear that Vettel is Red Bull’s man for the long term. Webber will be 37 in August.
The Australian usually does his contract renewal around the time of the British Grand Prix, so all eyes will be on him when F1 next reconvenes at Silverstone in two weeks time.