Fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo replaces Webber at Red Bull
Red Bull choose F1 debutant over experienced Kimi Raikkonen to partner Vettel next year
MARK WEBBER will be replaced by another Australian when he retires from Red Bull at the end of this season. The F1 team announced yesterday that Perth-born Daniel Ricciardo will be Sebastian Vettel's new team-mate from next year.
The 24-year-old F1 debutant beat off stiff competition from veterans Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to secure the drive.
The announcement was made on the same day that the Premier League transfer window closed - "strange" timing according to Tom Cary of the Daily Telegraph, who thinks it was perhaps Red Bull's aim not to generate too much coverage.
Ricciardo joins from Red Bull's junior team, Torro Rosso, and has a lot to live up to if he's to match the success of Sebastian Vettel, another Torro Rosso driver who came through the ranks.
"Red Bull is a team that advocates the importance and success of the young driver scheme," says Emily Bennemar, a sports journalist at Australia's ABC News. "Red Bull not going with one of their ‘own grown' drivers would have made a mockery of the whole system."
However, Bennemar admits that opting for a younger, inexperienced driver "won't be a popular choice among all F1 fans". Most would prefer a driver who is capable of seriously challenging Vettel for the championship.
"Raikkonen, more than any other driver on the grid, would have done just that," says Bennemar.
But Red Bull are adamant they've made the right choice. "He's got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he's got a great natural ability and he's a good personality and a great guy to work with," says Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner. ·