Ricciardo gets 2014 Red Bull seat

Daniel Ricciardo has been announced as Mark Webber’s replacement for the 2014 season.

The 24-year-old Australian will race alongside Sebastian Vettel next season.

Red Bull announced their new line up on Monday night ending rumours of a move to the team by Kimi Raikkonen or Fernando Alonso.

Ricciardo has raced for Toro Rosso since 2012 having started in F1 with HRT in 2011.

 

 

Who will race where in 2014: F1’s complicated driver market

Speculation has grown over the last few weeks about where certain drivers will find themselves next season. Mark Webber’s announcement he will be leaving F1 at the end of 2013 has started a flurry of rumours surrounding Red Bull next season – and the knock on effect this will have on other teams. With seats potentially up for grabs at Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari we look at which drivers are in contention.

IMG_3183Prior to Webber’s announcement in June there had been speculation over who would replace him. So many will be unsurprised the name at the top of the list appears to be Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn is capable of winning championships and is known to be friends with potential new teammate Sebastian Vettel. The lure of a team which has won three consecutive driver and constructor titles since 2009 – and could be set to win a fourth this season – may sway him towards the Austrian team.

Current team Lotus know Raikkonen is not keen on being rushed on where he will race next season. They appear to be prepared to wait and hope the Finn will continue to race with the team in 2014. Yet there must be some doubt since it has become apparent over the last few days talks are being held with other drivers thought to include Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta. Whether these talks are in preparation to replace Raikkonen or current teammate Romain Grosjean it is unknown.

IMG_3550Other drivers thought to be in contention for the Red Bull drive seem to be Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne. Between the two of them Ricciardo seems to be leading the battle to land the seat despite Vergne heading the pair in the drivers championship. They are currently separated by just two points. Ricciardo qualified fifth at the British Grand Prix going on to finish eighth whilst there was another impressive performance in Germany where he qualified sixth.

Ricciardo is relatively unknown only in his second season of F1. He may be out-qualifying and out-racing his teammate but this doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to perform in a top-team. If he can continue to show he can perform and score points he will keep himself in contention. Red Bull plan to make a decision around F1s summer break but with Raikkonen appearing reluctant to commit progress could stall.

IMG_2809Raikkonen’s potential defection to Red Bull would leave a place free at Lotus. However it seems neither driver currently with the team has a secure future. Both Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta are thought to be in contention should a place at Lotus arise. Hulkenberg made the move from Force India to Sauber for this season and things have far from gone to plan. Just seven points from nine races is not quite what he was anticipating. Having look set for a top seat he was overlooked by McLaren last season and his move to Sauber seemed to have more to do with its Ferrari connections. The German has performed extremely well in a car which is extremely bad. A Lotus seat would allow him to show the flashes of brilliance seen last season in Brazil where he led the race.

Paul di Resta is also said to be in talks with Lotus. The Force India driver is looking to have the better of teammate Adrain Sutil and has amassed 36 points this season. Stand out performances include a four place finish in Bahrain. Di Resta is also thought to be keen to make a move to Ferrari should a place open up. Also overlooked by McLaren last season he feels he deserves a chance to show he is capable of driving a race winning car.

IMG_2712At Ferrari Felipe Massa’s recent bad luck has left people questioning if he could find himself without a seat in 2014. The Italian team continue to say they support him. But a number of crashes and with just 57 points to his teammates 123 have people asking whether it is time for Ferrari to look elsewhere. Should they chose to part company with Massa their options could include Hulkenberg and Di Resta but a long term option is thought to be Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman has looked impressive in his rookie season but is not thought to be ready to make the step up to Ferrari. If the team are looking ahead to Bianchi it may spare Massa another season.

Who will end up where in 2014 is a question which will continue to run. With 10 races left in the season it may not be long before the puzzle pieces being to fall into place but until then expect lots of speculation over silly season 2014. How much of it turns out to be true – only time will tell.

**Pictures Silverstone June 28-30 ©Phil Creed**

Raikkonen vs Ricciardo: who is really in contention for a Red Bull drive?

Some impressive performances from Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo could be moving the Australian closer to a Red Bull drive. This comes as it was revealed Red Bull were keeping an eye on the young driver should Kimi Raikkonen – the teams first choice – be unavailable. But which of the two drivers is really in contention for a future Red Bull drive?

With speculation continuing to grow Mark Webber will not be retained beyond 2013 after Malaysia’s Multi 21 row, Raikkonen and Ricciardo have been lined up as a potential replacements.TORO ROS

The Australian has scored seven points this season and sits in 12th in the drivers championship. There have been impressive performances from Ricciardo. The first came China where he produced his best ever qualifying of seventh and later converted this into a solid points finish. He pushed in the final laps of the race to get ahead of midfield rivals Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg.

His performance in China was also replicated in Spain. The points haul may not have been as many as in Shanghai but the Australian drove a clean race in an upgraded and faster Toro Rosso to finish 10th.

Ricciardo has out-qualified his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne four times and out-raced him three times in the five races so far this season. However not every race has been as successful or impressive as China and Spain. In Australia he retired after 39 laps suffering from exhaust failure whilst in Malaysia it was another exhaust issue which put an end to his race with five laps to go leaving him classified 18th. In Bahrain he also had a disappointing race finishing 16th a lap down on winner Sebastian Vettel.

As previously mentioned, should Webber leave the world championship winning team, the man in pole position to replace him is in fact 2007 world champion Raikkonen. The Finn is favourite according to paddock whispers and he is also without a contract for 2014.

LOTUS SINGWhilst Lotus remain confident Raikkonen will stay with them for 2014 the benefits of making the move to Red Bull may outweigh the cons. Lotus may have the potential to win a championship- but it is not certain. The lure of a team which has won three consecutive driver and constructor titles since 2009 – and could be set to win a fourth this season – may sway the Finn towards the Austrian team.

Raikkonen has performed faultlessly this year. He is second in the drivers championship just five points behind Vettel. He won the first race of the season in Australia and has finished in second position three times. His worst performance this season has been seventh in Malaysia.

With Raikkonen, Red Bull would also have an experienced driver who has proved he can win a championship. In comparison Ricciardo is relatively unknown only in his second season of F1. He may be out-qualifying and out-racing his teammate but this doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to perform in a top-team.

The truth of the matter is that there is really only one driver in contention for the Red Bull drive. The team are understood to want Raikkonen, and in light of his recent form it is understandable. However it is not inconceivable that should he not make the move Webber will be signed for another season.

Red Bull say they won’t make a decision until the summer. There may be more than one name floating around for the second seat but one thing is for certain – the team’s 2014 driver line-up is far from settled.

2013 Team Preview: Toro Rosso

Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne

2012 Constructors position: 9th
2012 Driver position: Ricciardo 18th, Vergne 17th

Toro Rosso headed into 2012 with two new drivers and a car that failed to be truly competitive until after the summer break. Prior to the Belgium Grand Prix both drivers had only scored on one occasion each before going on to score eight times between them in the last races of the season. Despite both drivers scoring towards the seasons end it was not enough to help the team maintain its 2011 constructors position and the team finished one place below in ninth. They will need solid development and for their drivers to continually score to have a chance to compete with what should be a tight midfield in 2013.

Toro Rosso

Both drivers have continued with the team for the 2013 season and should be confident within the team and with the car since there are few technical rule changes in 2013. This should help both drivers to produce improved results and continue to score well, they should seek to finish races above eighth place to give them a chance to compete with the other midfield drivers. Expect the battle between the two drivers to be tight with the possibility of Vergne beating Ricciardo over the whole season.

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 16.41.33

Pre-season testing has been mixed for Toro Rosso with some flashes of brilliance and other moments where the car has not looked competitive. They will be hoping to be more competitive in 2013 and should challenge more in the midfield.

Predicted 2013 Constructors position: 9th