Top three finish in 2011 locks Vettel into Red Bull contract
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Top three finish in 2011 locks Vettel into Red Bull contract
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jan 2011   |  5:53 pm GMT  |  106 comments

There is an interesting little item in Speedweek, the Red Bull owned magazine, in which certain details of the contract arrangement with world champion Sebastian Vettel are explained, most notably that if he finishes in the top three in the 2011 world championship and scores a certain amount of victories, he is tied to Red Bull Racing for the 2012 season.

This is confirmed in the article by RBR special adviser Dr Helmut Marko, “We will not let any top driver go,” he says.

Vettel signed a contract renewal in August 2009 until the end of 2011 with an option for 2012, the trigger for which is now clear. There is consistently a lot coming out of the team about what a hot property he is. Even last summer the team was talking about extending it to the end of 2015, although over the winter there was some talk of whether he might at some point join Ferrari, which Marko and even Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz joined in.

“He is not going to change as long as Fernando Alonso is still there — otherwise he would be stupid, ” Marko said earlier this month. “It is a natural thing that a racing driver dreams of Ferrari, and Ferrari looks at a great driver like Sebastian. But just for the legend of Ferrari, Sebastian will not leave us.”

This is all part of the ongoing niggle between the establishment and the newcomer; Ferrari and Red Bull, which has arisen since Red Bull became the team to beat.

But to keep him, if another top team comes after him, Red Bull will have to be prepared to pay him more than they have up to now. In the trade off between retainer and bonus money, Red Bull tends to slant driver contracts 40%-60%, more towards bonus money than its rivals teams. Top drivers at McLaren and Ferrari can earn twice as much as Vettel earned last season, including bonuses, believed to be roughly €8m.

In addition to possible interest from Ferrari, the German has long been a target for Mercedes.

Team mate Mark Webber, who turns 35 this year, extended his deal last May for one more year and might conceivably retire at the end of the 2011 season, unless he wins the title. It is certainly hard to see him moving to a team lower down the grid.

Meanwhile Marko has also been talking to Sport Bild in Germany, where he claims that all the friction between Vettel and Webber would never have happened last year if Vettel had a more reliable car,

“Without the 66 points he lost due to technical defects, the standoff with Mark Webber would never have occurred,” he said. He also took the opportunity to point out that although team orders are now legal in the FIA rules, Red Bull will stick to its policy of letting the drivers race each other and no intervening, “We don’t use them (team orders) because the sporting aspect should be the primary focus of formula one,” he said.

Red Bull is launching its new car on February 1 in Valencia.

Photo: Darren Heath

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I’ve heard PDr is close to moving back to mclaren as test driver.
Any credence to that?


Vettel would be wise to have have a rider clause in his contract to give him an out if Adrian Newey is no longer employed by Red Bull. Much of the recent success that Red Bull Racing has achieved is attributable to Newey’s aerodynamic design prowess, and this advantage will slowly erode over the coming years if the regulations stabilize. Red Bull would be wise to be on the lookout for the next Newey if their success is to continue beyond this current era.


Top three finish in 2011 locks Vettel into Red Bull contract…

James, does that mean if we see Vettel stuff it into a wall during the season for no apparent reason, we should all start thinking a move to Ferrari is on the cards?


Alternatively if it looks like they can’t win, perhaps Webber could ‘take one for the team.. being him and vettel’ and win leaving Vettel free to then demand more money from RBR. Just a thought…..

Fernando's New Goatee

Helmut Marko.

The man is aptly named.


Oh dear, I hope Vettel doesn’t join the F-team in the near future.


Vettel must not leave RBR, for the sake of fens. Going to Ferrari would create enormous issues with Alonso – we saw that at Maclaren, so it will be for going to the brits – nightmare. Maclaren love their LH and JB, so I don’t see any of them leaving in favor of Vettel.


A contract is only something written on paper which is a basis for future negotiations. Tonio Luizzi had a contract with Force India to race, where is he now. Hamilton had a contract to race for McLaren which was quickly renegotiated for a lot more money when he started to blow people away. Vettel has a contract with Red Bull. If they want him to stay long term, they will renegotiate it ie more money for Vettel better terms, longer tie in for Red Bull, thats the way it goes.

Looking ahead to Vettels next team, too early to tell. All the best drivers try to go to the best team which can deliver wins. If Red Bull and Newey and co can keep on producing winning packages, they can be sure Vettel will stay for the longer term. If Red Bull start slipping up and Ferrari start winning everything, well its a no brainer if they come asking for you.

Ultimately a driver wants to get an F1 drive, then a podium, then a win, then a Championship ( by this time they have enough in the bank not to worry too much about money!), then another Championshio and then leave a record. Vettel has done the first 3, will Red Bull be the team to deliver for hin the last 2, we shall see.


What Marko says about the defects that Vettel had is true in a way that the tension was the result of that. But he should look at Vettel himself too, Sebastian is not the smoothest of drivers and he might have brought some of the mishaps onto himself…but then again, Helmut is not unbiassed of course!


People can blame Marko all they want for mentioning cold hard facts (which he does, he states the truth about the 66 points, like it or not) but the only reason Vettel beats Webber is because Vettel is the faster driver, end of conversation really. Not because Marko says things in public that makes Webber have a sad moment, lol.

You all forget, RBR is an edgy brand, they love this kind of controversy so you all play into it.

It is quite ironic how many complain how F1 has become stale and politically correct, yet when a team does the opposite of that, and does it succesfully, you all complain even more how they should be more politically correct. That is of course because the one eating it is the driver promoted most by the English speaking media.

I mean seriously, the BBC and British commentators don’t even defend and glorify the British drivers as much as they do Webber while they are better drivers too. They even try to hide Webber’s amateuristic mistakes through lawyer talk. James, you are guilty of this too. I yet have to read 1 word of critic against Webber by you while he deserved a half a dozen last season, while other drivers just get it. Whenever Webber is mentioned in some way, he is portrayed as the hero.

See, this is the problem when commentators get close friends with drivers and have lunches with them. Bias that then influences the fans opinions, who then literally make up stuff and repeat it so many times, everyone else believes them to be facts (for instance the lie Vettel made more mistakes than the others, while anyone going race by race knows he made the least mistakes of them all).

Webber fans can try to find excuses for everything all they want, it won’t make him go faster than Vettel. If talk like this by Marko affects Webber so much he goes slower, he should quit his job. Vettel gets way more bad rep by the media and the fans and he goes even faster because of it…now that is the way to do it instead of whining and demanding his hand to be held.


I don’t get this. Seems like a strategic blunder from Marko and Red bull(they must have published that article in speedweek). It’s a pretty stupid way to treat and motivate their drivers. Webber constantly being told of as second priority, and Vettel being told that the better he performs the more restricted his options are for 2012.
IN THEORY (I don’t think that Vettel thinks like that. He just want to win) all Mclaren or Ferrari has to do is to promise Vettel a salary of “schumacherian” proportion. Whoops there goes redbull’s chances in 2011.
Way I remember it, driver salaries are’nt subject to the resource restriction agreement, and I bet at least Ferrari can manage a pretty substantial payrise for Vettel.
A bit cynical? But then again when Helmut Marko talks shop like this, that’s cynical too.


My thoughts on this are slightly different. If i were vettel i would’nt be too happy with my team adviser saying that i’d be stupid to go to Ferrari because Alonso is still there. Yes Alonso likes to have the team on his side granted but surely any driver would like to prove themselves against a said top driver. Marko’s comments would come across to me that he doesn’t believe Vettel would be able to compete with Alonso in same machinery (IMO). Yes if RBR come producing top cars why move, if he can do with RBR what schui done with Ferrari all the best to him. There has to come a point tho that you’d want to pit yourself againt the best drivers in the same machinery to see how you’d fair, all drivers must have the attitude that they could beat all comers in equal circumstances. As i said Marko’s comments would seem to me to doubt that.


Gérard Lopez (from Genii Gapital, owners of the Enstone’s based team), once told Kubica that racing Alonso at Ferrari would be like trying to win a 100 meters sprint starting 200 meters behind the spanish driver.

Neither Mark nor Gérard “said” that their drivers were weaker (or better) compared to Alonso. They just meant that Fernando is not an easy fellow…or team mate if you wish.

I believe Filipe Massa understood and felt that in a very short period of time, as several others did



They just meant that Fernando is not an easy fellow…or team mate if you wish.

Isn’t that the point? Surely you’d want a tougher team mate to proove yourself against. At the very start of a season team mates are equal.

Don’t get me wrong i think Alonso is an exellent driver but if Seb went there and could match/ beat Alonso in the first say 6/7 races of a season would Alonso be able to take it?

Life is a challenge, if your not prepared to challenge yourself, then your already losing.


It wouldn’t be F1 without Helmut having a dig at Mark Webber every other week.

As for all this ‘We will not let any top driver go’ business, if I were Vettel, I’d want to win a second WDC this year with RBR, then move over to Mercedes and win with them.

Think of what that would do for his profile back in Germany! Then in about 2015 he could go to Ferrari for a couple of years.

What really scares me about RBR is how much weight they put on Marko’s words, despite his own racing record not really being that impressive (although curtailed by injury I appreciate).

Hopefully Seb can do his talking on the track this year, so Dr M doesn’t have to keep coming out with such nonsense to defend his ‘golden child’.


Unless Adrian newey took the whole winter off, I can’t imagine the new RB will be bad.

Although I’d love to see either Lewis or Jenson win given the right car this year, if Seb was to win the WDC again this season, and get locked into 2012 with RB, you could potentially have him going to Ferrari in 2013 (I’m pretty sure hes confident enough to take on Alonso).

It would make me chuckle to see Seb joining Ferrari as a triple world champion. Wonder what Fernando would think of that 😉

To be honest though, RB gives seb a good chance of the top 2 positions for 2011, and 2012, so why would he go before then anyway.

You have the potentially interesting situation at Mercedes to think of (post Schumacher), as I think if Vettel was on the market they would be after him too.

Another great subplot to watch out for anyway.

I’ll be interested to see Seb this year, to see if the confidence given to him by winning the WDC will spur him on even more.

There is no doubting his one lap pace.


I don’t like this sort of a performance clause in a contract.

It leaves open the possibility of a driver ‘tanking’ (not performing to their best) in order to get out of their contract.


That is exactly how I saw it too. If Vettel wants out, he just cruises round.


There is so much talk about Marko undermining Webber all the time. What if he simply likes Vettel and doesn’t get on that well with Webber?

What’s possibly wrong with it?

People should be allowed to have preferences.


In a team? Really? I’m not saying that Marko does have preferences, but it’s a bit like a family, where it’s not good for team spirit to have favourites.


If you look at harmony as consonance only then yes, it is desirable to be friendly, but dissonance is also harmony and in theory they both work well.

I am afraid it is not possible not to have favourites ,unless one is totally indifferent and Helmut Marko clearly is not. I suppose all top brass of all the teams have their favourites (Ferrari is a good example), they just say nothing or take care not to spill the beans for the reasons you have mentioned. Marko in contrast seems to be less mindful than most in this respect, in other words says what’s on his mind.


I don’t know many teams have favourites, and when they do they atleast don’t say anything and there favourite is there favourite, both drivers are treated equally regardless of who they prefer.

Sauber and Williams and Force India all made decisions based on speed and showed not favourism throughout the year

Mercedes despite Brawns manlove for schumacher isn’t is going around saying Rosberg has an advantage for not having left 3 years ago or anything.

Renault, McLaren, Lotus, Virgin and Torro Rosso haven’t made any comments (Ironically Marko is aparently incharge there aswell, you wouldn’t know it though)

Ferrari does prefer Alonso, but I think it’s mstly a speed thing. If Massa did to Alonso what Alonso did to Massa I’m guessing we’d here comments about how Alonso has been there for a year and really eneds to up his game

And HRT seems to despise all there drivers equally

It is just Red Bull and Marko more specifically that can’t keep his mouth shut and has to exclaim how brilliant Vettel is at every inconvenient moment. I wonder what would happen if Newey (who seems to recognise that Vettel would be nowhere right now if he hadn’t got a hand setting up his car for each race from Uncle Webber for the lost few races) came out exclaiming this fact? He’d create the RB7 and then shot.

Not that Newey would show favouritism.


Added to that Vettel doesn’t have a manager and so Marko has been the one to move him from just after he finished with karts right through to Torro Rosso and then into a RBR seat.

It reaks of Briatore and Alonso at Renault a bit doesn’t it?

James, do you think that, given Santanders exceptional amount of cash thrown at Ferrari, we will ever see Massa truely being able to contend with Alonso? Paying out the highest paid driver to then pay another the most all before repainting a ferrari has to cost a bit


People look at that, but I don’t see a problem. On the flip side Brazil is one of the most important markets for FIAT Nd Santander.


Should also just add a few interesting quotes/expressions by Marko.

“We will not let any top driver go,” – Marko. Webber hasn’t exactly been that far behind Vettel either of the two years they are together and yet I haven’t heard him wnating Webber to sign on with options for year or two afterwards

Secondly, Marko is refering to Vettel as Sebastian, while Webber is Mark Webber. An interesting juxtaposition you would say not?


Is it true that Marko picked up his public relations skills when working as a press agent for the catholic church? I can see the similarity. lol


I reckon… 2012, Webber to Ferrari, happy to cede to Alonso, nice cash, first Aussie to drive for them in F1 (Tim Schenken drove their sportscars), Kobayashi to Red Bull, Kubica to McLaren, Button to Renault.


2012, either Vettel to Ferrari, yes, alongside Alonso, or 2013 and Ferrari gives Massa another year (assuming he performs better this year) with a contract secured with Vettel for 2013. Both Alonso and Vettel are competitive guys and the “whining” you guys mention is part of being very competitive, and that’s a good thing actually. Kubica is another who has a very big chance of going to Ferrari but I don’t think he’s the image Ferrari is looking for (like Kimi).

Another thing Ferrari might do is bring in one of the guys from Sauber (like what happened with Massa, Barrichello) to play a supporting role to Alonso. Once Alonso retires the cycle begins once again and Vettel might be the one to take his place unless someone better comes along, remember he is still very young.

Next in line for RB are Alguersari, Buemi and Ricciardo. Webber is leaving F1 this year no matter what, he is old and cannot get amazing results unless he is given a car capable of surpassing winning. Better leave when he’s on top or very near the top. Kobayashi will never go to RB, remember that Red Bull seem to want to prove that their young driver program works.


Alguersuari or Buemi to Red Bull? I think you have as much chance of getting that drive as they do. And what is it about Kubica’s ‘image’ that would stop him going to Ferrari?


I think they will be ousted; Marko said Ricciardo will have a seat by 2012 ‘at the latest’. As for Kubica being like Kimi, I imagine Ferrari would love that, ie winning the title in his first year there


Alguersari has made enough progress to be considered, isn’t that why he will be at Toro Rosso this year? As well as Buemi? Don’t you think they would’ve been ousted like they did with Bourdais and Speed. They are consistent drivers but sometimes make mistakes, and their car is slower than a bulldog and that’s a big point to consider. Ricciardo has not been on the show yet to be able to prove himself worthy of the RB seat, times mean nothing when you’re racing a bunch of F1 wannabe rookies and you have the obvious fastest car.

Kubica is too much Kimi for Ferrari, even Kimi likes him. He’s an excellent driver, one of the very best and I do hope to see him drive for Ferrari but when you have Vettel and Kubica to choose from, Vettel’s image is better for Ferrari. Just what I think.


You are forgetting Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings. What money he is in an STR seat by midyear and RBR in 2012?


Good point… although maybe 2012 is too soon for him to be in a top seat. Everyone seems to rate him highly though; Marko, and Frank Williams especially. I don’t think there’s been two Aussies in F1 at the same time since… Tim Schenken and Larry Perkins, 1973 or thereabouts?


I wonder if Webber’s contract says it’s automatically terminated if he finishes in the top three?




Everyone sing with with me…

Here we go here we go here we goooo

Here we go here we go here we gooo

Here we go, Here we go

Here we go, Here we go

Here we go here we go here we goooooooooooooo!

I see that within the next week both Webber and Vettel do get to drive the new RB7. And not too soon has the Marko clock woken up and started spouting.

Just on the last bit ‘this wouldn’t have happened if’… Does anyone else see the irony of him say that given that quite a bit of Webber verbal bitch slaps later in the season have been pretty much due entirely to him.

Secondly, RBR are so incredibly full of themselves are it is really starting to erk me. THe wow, Vettel is amazing, the greatest driver in the world and Ferrari want him and so do McLaren, in fact Mercedes are looking to dump 7 time world champion for Vettel he is THAT good. But we aren’t going to let him go, unless we can’t provide him a brilliant car, because all we want is for the best of him. I would sacrifice my team and not have the best driver if I couldn’t give him the best car in the world. Quick, Marko, quick, Dit call Bernie E, I want a rule put in requiring any team with the best car to offer our young (ish) Sebastain Vettel a seat before anything happens. You ehar me?

They love Vettel and wouldn’t want to hold him unless they can give him the best car. If team orders are required then thats a no, but he needs to best car. One wonders what would have happened if Alonso won not with the best car but orders.

As an Aussie and a fan of Webber, that is the only reason why I want the RB7 to be any good. And this, less than a week out form the start of testing from a top man IN RBR, not just vettel’s (psuedo) manager really does irk mean and piss me right off.


Webber fans talk how Marko (who is on Vettel’s group in the team, both drivers have their own group) is taking sides, yet you Webber fans do not see how one-sided your views are.

You actually demand the group that supports Vettel to support Webber, while Webber’s group doesn’t support Vettel?

How about this: Webber should beat Vettel on the track instead of whining about political nonsense?

Crazy idea, I know!


Marko is the de facto number 2 at Red Bull, which gives him alot more power than anyone on Webber’s side of the garage. If Marko was Vettel’s engineer then his one-sidedness wouldn’t be so unprofessional.


Agree with Nando. Marko is there representing and making decisions in place for ditmcihejhkasjdkas (owner of Red Bull). He has power and influence, if Australia was RBR, then Ditmesa would be the Queen and Marko the Governor-Gernal Quinten Bryce.

No one on Webber’s team (who you are yet to name) has the power or influence anywhere near that of Marko.


“the friction between Vettel and Webber would never have happened last year if Vettel had a more reliable car,” They gave Vettel’s ‘bad’ car to Webber after the Valencia wreck for Silverstone. Then they took the nose off of Mark’s car when Seb wrecked his…& Mark, the 2nd driver, still won.



I am continually comfounded by Marko and his comments.

How can such irresponsible statements be made by a man of authority as Marko is in the Red bull organization.

Surely this has to stop?

Leaving all this aside, what is the background of Marko anyway? Maybe a small piece on Marko, his prior achievements etc.? Would love to read it.


It will not stop he is the MOUTH piece for RB…and I don’t mean that in a nice way.


Marko needs to stop belittling Webber. If I remember right Vettel lost more points than any of the top drivers from his own errors (Turkey and Spa come to mind as massive ones).

Interesting that they don’t contractually have a driver promised for next season. I’m praying Kimi ends up there, the nature of the RB team suits his laid back style. If he doesn’t come back next year though i don’t think we’ll ever see him again in F1, which is a shame because he is probably the fastest driver i’ve seen in F1.


Webber seems to drive better when he’s angriest so not necessarily a bad thing that Marko is so abrasive. Silverstone was billiant.

Wasn’t it Enzo’s trick to play off his drivers against each other to get the maximum from them?

I’d love to see another season with Webber pushing Vettel to the limit and the sparks flying. MW has shown he’s not afraid of his team management so he’s the man for the job.

But isn’t the challenge at Red Bull really Newey? He is their real edge and he isn’t replaceable. They can’t be the “new Ferrari” if their success relies so heavily upon one man.


Wrong, Alonso, Webber and Hamilton lost more points through more mistakes they made than Vettel.

And Vettel lost 3 times more points through mechanical failures than the second runner up , Alonso, who got almost all those points.

In short, if Vettel had the same amount of mechanical failures as the others, and he did lose less points through own mistakes (fact, go race by race), it means he would have been champion before Japan.

The real question is…why are there so many people like you who insist Vettel made most mistakes, while the reality is he made the least mistakes of the top 6. Were you by any chance watching the BBC exclusively for F1 (i.e. Webber Apologist and Lawyer Agency).


Well there was a table that popped up on this blog towards the end of the season and it also did the rounds at the autosport forum which listed each driver mistake in a race which cost them points and Vettel was at the top. I think it was just before Korea; even with Webbers spin he was still behind Vettel.

All i’m saying is that Vettel was driving the most dominant car i’ve seen since the F2004 and scraped a win, even with mechanical issues. Reminds me of Villeneuve’s 97 season.


Dr Marko’s comments are bad but nothing compared to Montezemolo’s about Massa’s 2010 season:

“Felipe Massa did not show up for the second half of the season, joking that he sent his brother to race instead.

“He gets a seven minus but he has promised to come back next year.”

I personally dont rate Massa, although he is quick at times he somehow he always looks out of his depth. Mind you with those comments being made about him it would be very hard to maintain self respect.


Firstly, Massa did drive badly in the 2nd half of the year. While it was not called for, it was atleast somewhat true.

Marko’s comments given that Webber led Vettel most of the year are rediculos.

2ndly, if anyone was going to give a media blackout it would be Marko given that he is more superior in the team it appears that Horner.


I think Monte’s comments are more aimed at letting Massa know that his performance in the back end of the season wasn’t good enough, whereas Marko’s comments are suggesting/stating that Webber was lucky to be in the fight at all.

I agree with PaulD’s comment above. I wonder if Horner could issue a media black out to the team, only allowing himself and the drivers to speak publicly about the team.

As for the contract, we’ve seen in many other professional sports that contracts cannot stop the contractee from breaking the contract at will. If Vettel sees a better offer, RB will have to let him go whether they want to or not.


Agreed regarding Massa, but public humiliation and ridicule is not good management.


Marko’s comments aside, Red Bull is the future, and he will be heard, considering the team would not exist without him. But Horner, Newey, Vettel, and Webber have created something really special in RBR. If I were Vettel I wouldn’t leave Red Bull to go to Ferrari for all the tea in China! Though I do hope Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and RenaultLotusWhogivesa@#$%^#@anymore, do challenge Red Bull more at the front, I have quite enjoyed seeing Red Bull smack all the major players around. Just the shake up F1 needed.


Wow, everytime Marko opens his mouth, he takes a dig at Webber. How much does he hate this man?

Other than that, interesting condition. Top 3 is pretty high, considering that even Ferrari, McLaren and Renualt, the last three champion teams, have had off years. Will Vettel leave as soon as there’s a dip in performance? It’s hard to build a team around a driver if he’s looking to jump at the first available opportunity.

James, any historical parallel that you’re aware of?

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