Red Bull still has lots of options for Webber replacement
Christian Horner is not ruling out any drivers for next year's Red Bull drive, including Kimi Raikkonen, saying the media would be surprised at some of the offers he has received.
After Raikkonen's management said he would not drive for Red Bull next year, Daniel Ricciardo became the logical choice based on previous comments made by Horner. But the Red Bull team principal stressed that a deal has not yet been signed and no driver has been completely ruled out.
"I wouldn't rule anything out at the moment," he said. "Until we finalize who is going to take the second seat there is nothing more to say.
"Kimi's very much his own man, I'm sure he will do what's best for him at the end of the day. We're in a fortunate position where there's a lot of interest in the seat and we've still got a bit of time before we need to make any firm commitments.
"We are just going to use that time to evaluate the market fully and as soon as a decision is finally made you will know very quickly."
Asked if Raikkonen is out of the running, he added: "As far as I am aware he hasn't signed a contract with anyone yet. It's quite simple, once we are clear and fixed there will be an announcement very shortly [after]. You have to make sure you consider all the options and there are more options than you could possibly think.
"I've not had any discussions recently with Kimi. He's obviously decided he wants to go a specific route and that's his choice. Kimi's a quality driver obviously, but I don't think we are short of choice."
Pushed for a deadline for a decision, he said: "It's not going to be much longer, I would have thought. By Monza or shortly after Monza we should be clear."
Fernando Alonso was linked to the seat at the Hungarian Grand Prix and some rumors have even put Jenson Button in the frame, despite the McLaren driver insisting he plans to stay where he is once a contract option is signed off. But Horner indicated some big names had approached the team.
"You'd be surprised at the approaches that we've had, but I don't want to compromise any of the discussions that may or may not be happening," he said. "Once we've made a clear commitment you will know about it."
As for Ricciardo, Horner said: "Daniel's done a very good job in the test that he's done for us and the recent races that he's done for Toro Rosso. But that doesn't mean it's a foregone conclusion. It's a very important decision for us and we want to take the time to make the right decision and assess all the options. We are in a fortunate position where there are a lot of drivers that want to be in that car." ESPNF1