Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Raikkonen not of interest to Red Bull, insists Horner

Kimi Raikkonen will not be a Red Bull Racing driver in F1 2010, insists Christian Horner - who assures that Mark Webber will continue to partner Sebastian Vettel at the energy drinks-backed outfit

There is no room at the inn for former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen at Red Bull Racing in 2010 – that is the emphatic assurance of Christian Horner, who has bluntly rebuffed any notions that two-time grand prix-winner Mark Webber could be side-shifted to 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso next year.

In the wake of the belated confirmation that Fernando Alonso is to switch from Renault to Ferrari next season in Raikkonen's place, the 2007 title-winner was immediately linked with a whole raft of teams, from McLaren-Mercedes to Toyota and Renault to Red Bull.

The rumours linking the Finn to the latter intensified in the wake of comments made by Webber in support of disgraced former Renault F1 managing director – and his personal manager – Flavio Briatore following the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing into 'Singapore-gate', with the ruling banning the flamboyant Italian from any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport indefinitely, driver management included.

Those remarks – to the effect that he does not wish to be managed by anybody else – are understood to have been poorly received by the Australian's employers, with suggestions that he could even be moved aside to make way for Raikkonen – and whilst Webber has a contract in-place for 2010, in F1 contracts are rarely worth the paper they are written on, and it has been pointed out that the fun and party-loving Raikkonen would be a perfect fit with Red Bull's young, vibrant image.

It has conversely been mused, however, that talk linking Raikkonen to the energy drinks-backed concern could simply be a bargaining tool in his negotiations with McLaren – widely believed to be his favoured destination for next year, if only satisfactory financial terms can be reached – and RBR team principal Horner is adamant that neither German and Brazilian Grand Prix winner Webber nor current team-mate Sebastian Vettel will be going anywhere.

“That's a rumour that does not exist within our team,” the Englishman is quoted as having said by F1SA. “We all know where we stand with Mark next year, and he does too. He's a great team player [and] we're very happy with his performance, so there is no doubt that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will be our race drivers next year.”