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DATE News (chronologically)
09/02/13
f1
Ricciardo to replace Webber at Red Bull (13th Update)  UPDATE #13 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

08/17/13 (GMM)  Red Bull has signed Daniel Ricciardo to replace his departing Australian countryman Mark Webber in 2014.

That is the claim of Germany's Sport Bild, whose correspondents Bianca Garloff and Ralf Bach said the news about Sebastian Vettel's new teammate will be announced at the Belgian grand prix in a week.

"Unfortunately, I cannot say any more than that we will make an announcement at Spa," said the energy drink-owned outfit's Dr Helmut Marko.

23-year-old Ricciardo's move to Red Bull ties in with reports Kimi Raikkonen is returning to Ferrari.

Australian Ricciardo told Sport Bild just before the summer break that, if selected to race alongside Vettel in 2014, he expects to get along with the reigning world champion.

"I know Seb quite well," he said, "as I was the reserve driver in 2010.  I was out for dinner with him a few times and we get on really well."

Ricciardo admitted, however, that he is not immediately expecting equal status with his German stablemate.

"Of course not at the start of the season," he said, "but I'm in formula one to be the best."

08/17/13 According to sources in Europe, Daniel Ricciardo has been chosen to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull.

07/25/13
Daniel Ricciardo
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo on Thursday appeared to move another step closer to landing his dream seat at Red Bull Racing.

After the young Australian tested for the world champion team recently at Silverstone, reports indicated he had moved ahead of Kimi Raikkonen as the favorite to replace the Le Mans-bound Red Bull veteran Mark Webber in 2014.

When asked about next year's currently vacant race seat alongside Sebastian Vettel, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz clearly hinted Toro Rosso driver Ricciardo is at the front of the queue.

The Austrian billionaire did not even mention Finn Raikkonen, whose current team Lotus is pushing hard to convince the laid-back 2007 world champion to stay.

"No decision has been taken yet," Mateschitz is quoted as saying by the AFP, AAP and Sapa news agencies.

"It is still under discussion within the team but it will be announced after Budapest. Ricciardo did an excellent job at Silverstone and Jean-Eric Vergne was good too."

Raikkonen to move from Lotus to Red Bull
07/07/13
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen is on the verge of agreeing a switch from Lotus to Red Bull for 2014.

That is the claim of Spanish sports newspaper Marca's correspondent Marco Canseco, who reports from the Nurburgring that although the Finn has not actually signed on the dotted line, "only missing now is the last details of the agreement".

Canseco added that Red Bull and the 2007 world champion could announce the identity of Sebastian Vettel's next teammate "at Spa, after the summer break".

Raikkonen told F1's official website: "At Red Bull they want me, but I have other choices -- so time will tell."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has repeated in Germany this weekend that the only other candidates to replace Mark Webber next year are the two current Toro Rosso drivers.

Out of that duo, Daniel Ricciardo appears to be the favorite, having qualified ten places ahead of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne at the Nurburgring.

Australian Ricciardo agrees that the situation - the prize of a Red Bull seat - is spurring him on.

"That is actually the case," the 23-year-old is quoted by Russian website f1news.ru.

"I'm using it (the situation) to my advantage, and it seems to be working."

The similarly-aged Vergne, meanwhile, insisted that if Red Bull chooses someone else to replace Webber, he could spend another season at Toro Rosso.

"He (team boss Franz Tost) would like to keep me should it not work with the Red Bull cockpit -- and I would like to stay, as Toro Rosso is a team that is improving massively," he said.

07/01/13 Mark Webber has tipped fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo to replace him at Formula One champions Red Bull next season.

The Toro Rosso driver started fifth and finished eighth in Sunday's British Grand Prix to set out his stall after Webber announced on Thursday that he was leaving at the end of the year to join Porsche's Le Mans program.

"We've already had a few little chats, but we can have some more in the future," Webber told BBC radio after he finished second in the race behind Nico Rosberg's Mercedes.

"I think he's in the box seat...he deserves it and he's done the yards over here in Europe early doors. He's been on the canvas a few times and got back up and that's part of the rules.

"Daniel knows it will be a different challenge in a team like that, the pressure changes. Who knows what is going to happen, but we wish him all the best."

Ricciardo thanked him for the encouragement.

"As Mark said, let's see what happens. I'm not going to get my hopes up. I've still got to perform and produce what I've got to do and if it all works out then that will be exciting," said the Perth-born driver.

Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who drives for Lotus, is seen as a frontrunner for the seat with Ricciardo's French teammate Jean-Eric Vergne also in the reckoning. - Reuters

06/19/13 (GMM)  The F1 driver market is waiting for Kimi Raikkonen's next move, according to Oskari Saari, a commentator for Finnish television MTV3.

"Red Bull's Helmut Marko said in Canada that driver decisions will be made in August, during the summer break," Saari said.

It is strongly rumored that Lotus' Raikkonen, having firmly re-established his reputation in the wake of a rallying sabbatical, is now likely to return to a true top team in 2014 to replace Mark Webber.

Saari said he thinks Raikkonen is a better candidate than Red Bull's youngsters at Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

"They're good guys, but not quite good enough," he insisted.

"I think the probability of Kimi going to Red Bull is very high -- it would be a logical move," added Saari.

Saari also repeated rumors that Lotus might look to Williams' Pastor Maldonado and his PDVSA sponsor millions to replace Raikkonen.

06/19/13 (GMM)  The F1 driver market is waiting for Kimi Raikkonen's next move, according to Oskari Saari, a commentator for Finnish television MTV3.

"Red Bull's Helmut Marko said in Canada that driver decisions will be made in August, during the summer break," Saari said.

It is strongly rumored that Lotus' Raikkonen, having firmly re-established his reputation in the wake of a rallying sabbatical, is now likely to return to a true top team in 2014 to replace Mark Webber.

Saari said he thinks Raikkonen is a better candidate than Red Bull's youngsters at Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

"They're good guys, but not quite good enough," he insisted.

"I think the probability of Kimi going to Red Bull is very high -- it would be a logical move," added Saari.

Saari also repeated rumors that Lotus might look to Williams' Pastor Maldonado and his PDVSA sponsor millions to replace Raikkonen.

05/15/13 (GMM)  The signs are growing ever stronger than Daniel Ricciardo is a real candidate to replace his Australian countryman Mark Webber at Red Bull next year.

"I was waiting for one of these questions!" the 23-year-old, acknowledging the rumors, said last weekend in Barcelona whilst flashing one of his characteristic grins.

Some think Kimi Raikkonen is a much stronger contender for Webber's 2014 seat, but it should be remembered that Toro Rosso exists to feed drivers to its energy drink owner's main team.

So Ricciardo, racing alongside Jean-Eric Vergne at present, looks the strongest contender to be fed into Red Bull Racing since Sebastian Vettel a few years ago.

"Ideally for me I'd love to get the Red Bull Racing seat one day, and to sort of really complete their program," he told Melbourne radio SEN on Wednesday.

"Everyone's always watching -- I'm always trying to make sure I'm turning a few heads.  Red Bull for me has created a massive opportunity," Ricciardo added.

Franz Tost, Ricciardo's Toro Rosso boss, admitted on Wednesday that - weighing up Ricciardo versus Frenchman Vergne - it is the young Australian closest to making the move to Red Bull.

"Right now he (Ricciardo) has the upper hand, which we have seen in Barcelona," the Austrian told F1's official website.

"But that is a snapshot right now.  Generally I would say that both would fit into the Red Bull concept."

05/11/13 (GMM) As the 2014 'silly season' revs up in the Barcelona paddock, the man on pole position is Kimi Raikkonen.

Many believe the Finn's rumored move to Red Bull for next season might already be agreed.

It would be the culmination of a fascinating period in the 2007 world champion's career.

When Ferrari ousted him after a poor 2009, most pundits thought Raikkonen had lost interest in F1. He spent two years in world rallying, and even tried his hand at Nascar.

"The last year with Ferrari I don't know whether his heart wasn't in it or whether he just wasn't happy," Jenson Button told the Guardian in Barcelona.

"Now, he seems like the driver who won the world championship."

Laid-back Lotus was the ideal team to host the 33-year-old's comeback last year, and he has even won races and is now a dark hose for the 2013 title.

But a return to a top team for the former McLaren and Ferrari driver now seems inevitable.

"You keep asking me the same question," Raikkonen told reporters on Friday when asked about the Red Bull rumors, "but I have nothing to tell."

Understandably, having lost highly-rated technical director James Allison, Lotus is desperate to keep its top driver on board.

"If we give Kimi a winning car," team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by German news agency DPA, "he has no reason to change."

Red Bull, however, could give Raikkonen a perfect reason, as the reigning world champions consider pairing the 'iceman' with his friend Sebastian Vettel.

Christian Horner denied Vettel, who shares a barely communicative relationship with Mark Webber, will have the final say.

"To say, 'this one, yes' and, 'this one, no' was never Sebastian's style, to dictate," team boss Horner told F1's official website.

"He is a sporting guy and has never pressured the team into doing things for his own benefit."

04/30/13 (GMM)  Daniel Ricciardo has moved into pole position to succeed his Australian compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull next year.

Particularly in the wake of the 'Multi-21' affair and subsequent rumors that Webber could sign for Porsche's Le Mans effort, the signs that Sebastian Vettel will have a new teammate in 2014 have been growing.

The early favorite was Kimi Raikkonen, but Red Bull's driver manager Dr Helmut Marko insists he is in "no hurry" to make a decision.

"Many drivers want to drive for Red Bull, and we have two very good juniors," he is quoted by APA news agency at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria on Monday.

"I'm not worried that we will have something other than two top drivers in the end."

The 'two very good juniors' referred to by Marko are Toro Rosso duo Ricciardo, 23, and the similarly-aged Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

"In general we are happy with both drivers," Marko said.

"Ricciardo is currently the better one.  Vergne is too impetuous, asking too much of these sensitive tires in qualifying."

Like team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, Marko does not completely rule out re-signing Webber for 2014.

He denied the 36-year-old's relationship with Vettel is now untenable, insisting there is tension but only because both drivers are "alpha dogs".

"They work constructively together, and that's enough," said Marko.

"As long as it stays that way, we don't have to worry.  They've never been great friends, but they have a working relationship that still works."

In the meantime, Ricciardo has vowed to try to influence Marko's decision, which will be made around summertime.

"Well," the Australian told Speed Week, "the seventh (place) in Shanghai definitely didn't hurt me.

"But I know that I need to do more if I want to have a good chance of getting the place at Red Bull.

"I have to show that it wasn't just a flash in the pan," added Ricciardo.

He admitted the stakes, and the pressure, are high.

"I see it as an incentive, not a burden," said the Perth-born driver.  "My goal is to get the promotion, and I know that a lot is expected of me.

"It's up to me to get the results."

04/30/13 (GMM)  Daniel Ricciardo has moved into pole position to succeed his Australian compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull next year.

Particularly in the wake of the 'Multi-21' affair and subsequent rumors that Webber could sign for Porsche's Le Mans effort, the signs that Sebastian Vettel will have a new teammate in 2014 have been growing.

The early favorite was Kimi Raikkonen, but Red Bull's driver manager Dr Helmut Marko insists he is in "no hurry" to make a decision.

"Many drivers want to drive for Red Bull, and we have two very good juniors," he is quoted by APA news agency at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria on Monday.

"I'm not worried that we will have something other than two top drivers in the end."

The 'two very good juniors' referred to by Marko are Toro Rosso duo Ricciardo, 23, and the similarly-aged Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

"In general we are happy with both drivers," Marko said.

"Ricciardo is currently the better one.  Vergne is too impetuous, asking too much of these sensitive tires in qualifying."

Like team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, Marko does not completely rule out re-signing Webber for 2014.

He denied the 36-year-old's relationship with Vettel is now untenable, insisting there is tension but only because both drivers are "alpha dogs".

"They work constructively together, and that's enough," said Marko.

"As long as it stays that way, we don't have to worry.  They've never been great friends, but they have a working relationship that still works."

In the meantime, Ricciardo has vowed to try to influence Marko's decision, which will be made around summertime.

"Well," the Australian told Speed Week, "the seventh (place) in Shanghai definitely didn't hurt me.

"But I know that I need to do more if I want to have a good chance of getting the place at Red Bull.

"I have to show that it wasn't just a flash in the pan," added Ricciardo.

He admitted the stakes, and the pressure, are high.

"I see it as an incentive, not a burden," said the Perth-born driver.  "My goal is to get the promotion, and I know that a lot is expected of me.

"It's up to me to get the results."

04/21/13 Kimi Raikkonen has insisted he is yet to give any thought about where he might drive in 2014 amid renewed speculation that the Finn may replace Mark Webber at Red Bull.

With the fractious relationship between Webber and Sebastian Vettel, which was lukewarm at the best of times, hitting a new, irreparable low in the fall-out from Vettel's deeply contentious victory at the Malaysian GP, Webber is widely expected to leave the World Champions when his existing one-year deal expires in eight months' time.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo and highly-rated young charger Felix da Costa have both been cited as candidates to replace Webber, but it is Raikkonen who appears to be in pole position to fill the coveted seat alongside Vettel.

Nevertheless, Raikkonen is adamant that he is in no rush to finalize a deal for next season despite his own deal with Lotus expiring at the end of this season.

"I have no contract for next year - that much is true. But further than that, I don't want to discuss the matter. I want to do well this season and everything else will fall into place," he told the official Formula 1 website.

"There are many things that are undecided and there is still a long way to go this season, so let's see how things unfold. We will see pretty significant changes when teams switch to their 2014 car development - and then it will be interesting to see what is going on."

Speculation that Raikkonen is poised to transfer to Red Bull has intensified in recent weeks, with Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft among those predicting the Finn will form a mouthwatering partnership with Vettel in 2014.

"From talking to people in the paddock and watching what is going on, I just have the feeling that a big-name signing, even though they have plenty of good up-and-coming drivers in the Red Bull development program, is what they want," declared Crofty during Sky Sports F1's coverage of the Bahrain GP.

Unlike the gritty, plain-spoken Webber, who caused a stir in midweek by dining with Vettel's perennial title rival Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen is a close friend of the German and possesses the sort of laidback character which is likely to bring harmony to a team ripped asunder by events at Sepang.

"Kimi is holding a lot of good cards," declared Sky F1 pundit Anthony Davidson. "Raikkonen is good friends with Vettel and they play badminton together - and apparently Kimi always wins."

Whereas visualizing Raikkonen in a Red Bull racing suit for 2014 is certainly far easier to foresee than imagining the taciturn Finn neatly decked out in a pristine badminton kit, the picture is cloudier still for Webber's future.

While the immediately-implausible rumors of Webber signing a five-year deal with Porsche were given short shrift by the 36-year-old in the Bahrain paddock this week, the veteran dodged an invitation on Friday to confirm he will continue in F1 in 2014 and a switch of motorsport series remains eminently feasible.

As ever, the F1 rumor mill hasn't been left idle for long. Sky Sports

04/11/13 (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has refused to confirm or deny rumors linking him to Red Bull for 2014, insisting even retirement remains an option.

In the wake of the 'Multi-21' saga, with some suspecting Mark Webber's place alongside Sebastian Vettel is now untenable, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said 2007 world champion Raikkonen is "cool, fast and always a candidate".

Raikkonen, 33, ran with Red Bull sponsorship in world rallying after leaving Ferrari a few years ago, returning to F1 with Lotus in 2012 and showing impressive form.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko echoed Mateschitz's comments about Raikkonen on Wednesday when he admitted the Finn "is someone who is on our list for next year".

But when asked if he has already turned his attention to the end of his current contract and 2014, Raikkonen insisted: "I have not.

"I could even retire," he told Turun Sanomat newspaper.  "I don't have any contract - nothing - for next year.

"I am focusing on now," Raikkonen added.

Well-connected paddock sources insist that Red Bull must at least be considering replacing Webber for 2014.

Raikkonen and German Vettel are good friends, which according to Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt could make a big difference, given the likely venom of the continuing Webber/Vettel relationship.

"Well," the respected journalist is quoted by Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, "Vettel and Webber's relationship will never be the same.

"Vettel has apologized, but really that was just for the public.  Deep down, he knows the importance of those seven points.

"It is the difference between the champion and the normal racing driver.

"Champions think only of themselves."

Vettel's former trainer Tommi Parmakoski agrees: "The first thing is that everyone needs to follow their team boss.

"But on the other hand, knowing Sebastian as well as I do, he has this unbridled desire to win.  It is the fundamental reason why he has won so much and endured the toughest pressures."

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