Vettel signs Red Bull contract extension
Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel signs Red Bull contract extension
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Aug 2009   |  11:14 am GMT  |  4 comments

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.

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I was wondering if any of the big teams have shown interest in Sutil?

Paige Michael-Shetley

Good move for Vettel. Red Bull has laying the foundation of a top team since they purchased Jaguar and have gradually built themselves into one. They’ve got a great team principal in Horner, the top designer in the business in Newey, and now arguably the best driver pairing in Vettel and Webber. Red Bull is as deep-pocketed as any team owner and sponsor in the history of F1. The massive change in technical regulations for 2009 was exactly what they needed to vault to the top, as it gave Newey a real opportunity to play with some subversive design concepts to produce his trademark aero-efficient car. Now that they’ve had their spark, they have all the pieces in place to remain at the top of the grid, especially for next year considering that there won’t be any serious changes in aerodynamic regulations.

It’s pretty clear that Vettel is one of the elite talents in F1, perhaps even the most talented driver on the grid. He will only improve with experience and edge-smoothening. It’s also quite clear that Red Bull is committed to building the team around him in the long-term.

According to PlanetF1, McLaren, Ferrari, Brawn, and Toyota were all offering seats starting in 2011, after Vettel’s original contract was scheduled to end. Vettel made the right choice, considering both the pluses that Red Bull provides as a team and the potential minuses of going to one of those four teams. McLaren wouldn’t be nearly as devoted to him as Red Bull would be, as they have another elite talent in Hamilton to support, as well. Ferrari appear to be slipping back into the mediocrity of the pre-Schumacher days with all of the departures of key people from that era. Toyota really haven’t shown they can be a top team despite spending all the money they have, and Brawn may not be able to produce the resources to remain a top team.

In any event, this whole episode reveals a lot about what teams are thinking in terms of their driver lineups for the future. If Ferrari were offering Vettel a seat for 2011, then perhaps the Alonso-to-Ferrari rumors aren’t as bulletproof as we all think. They also suggest that McLaren were much more keen on Vettel than Rosberg and were even willing to have a one-year wonder come on board for a year to fill the seat for Vettel (retain Kovalainen?). If Toyota were after Vettel and willing to put up the effort it would take to get him, then they must be committed to remaining in F1.


It’s for the best that he stays with what will most likely be a mid fielder team again next year.

Vettel is so obviously still a rookie (4 crashes already in 10 races!) that he shouldn’t go head to head with a top level driver (Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton and probably even Rosberg) just yet.


For me, the very top teams are the ones that demonstrate the depth to develop a disappointing car or turnaround the following season. That is the difference between a genuine topflight outfit and one that is fleetingly successful, perhaps by lucking into a good car (Wolf, 1977) or burning out after over-achieving (Jordan, 1999-2000).

Red Bull has developed progressively and appears to be solidly funded. Brawn is more difficult to read, being so much earlier in its history, enduring erratic development after an initial conceptual advantage under fresh regulations and, perhaps, less securely funded. Time will tell.

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