Raikkonen rejects NASCAR for return to F1 UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Red Bull team figures were out in force on Wednesday, playing down links with Kimi Raikkonen and suggesting Mark Webber will be staying in 2012.
It has been reported that the energy drink owned team had targeted world rally and NASCAR driver Raikkonen, F1's 2007 world champion and a former race winner for McLaren and Ferrari, for next year after Australian Webber openly ignored team orders during the British grand prix on Sunday.
But team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is quoted by the German news agency SID: "There is still no doubt about Mark's contract extension.
"He feels comfortable with us and within the team is very popular," he told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.
"He cannot get a better car, and we cannot get a better driver from the market," added Mateschitz.
Team boss Christian Horner was reportedly furious with Webber's insubordination at Silverstone, but Mateschitz seems less bothered.
"I understand that he wanted to come further forward; he would be a bad racer if he did not try," said the billionaire.
As for the Raikkonen rumors, Mateschitz's F1 right-hand man Dr Helmut Marko told TZ: "Kimi Raikkonen is not and will not be an issue for us. He definitely will not drive at Red Bull.
"These rumors are far-fetched and total nonsense," added the Austrian.
Marko added that when Red Bull is ready to replace Webber, it will be with a driver from the company's own talent pool.07/12/11
(GMM) Red Bull is planning to pair Sebastian Vettel with his friend Kimi Raikkonen in 2012.
|Raikkonen chats with Kyle Busch at Charlotte|
That is the sensational claim of the high-circulation German newspaper Bild-Zeitung, less than two days after Mark Webber ignored team orders at the end of the British grand prix.
2007 world champion and Finn Raikkonen, 31, left formula one at the end of 2009, and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was quoted on Monday as saying "I believe he has put F1 behind him".
Bild said the plan to replace Australian Webber with Raikkonen is "top secret" but divulged the information of a source "at the highest level".
German Vettel remains friends with Raikkonen, the pair often meeting in Switzerland to play badminton. Asked recently who his ideal teammate is, the reigning world champion replied: "Kimi."
The former Ferrari and McLaren race winner had talks with Red Bull last year and has now "apparently changed his mind" about wanting to stay in rallying and NASCAR.
And referring to Webber, Red Bull's driver manager Helmut Marko told Bild recently: "We have other options but I don't want to talk about them now."
The report also said Raikkonen told a Finnish journalist recently: "I have never said that my formula one career is over."