UPDATE: Raikkonen to Red Bull? UPDATE #3 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 rumors 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 favored 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 rumor 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.” SPEEDTV
10/17/09 (GMM) Rubbished rumors that Kimi Raikkonen could find himself at Red Bull Racing next year have resurfaced in the Interlagos paddock.
It had been rumored, but subsequently denied by the Finn's management and dismissed by sections of the specialist media, that talks to replace the contracted Mark Webber in 2010 were taking place.
"Red Bull would be a perfect fit for him," Australian Webber, referring to 30-year-old Raikkonen who agreed to end his 2010 Ferrari contract to make room for Fernando Alonso, is quoted as saying by the AP news agency.
32-year-old Webber referred to the fact that both he and Sebastian Vettel are already lined up to keep their seats at Red Bull next year.
But he added: "I'm confident that the contracts have been sorted out and if things move around, then they do. It's normal there's a bit of fun and games in formula one."10/09/09 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Kimi Raikkonen's manager has played down reports linking the Finn with a move to Red Bull Racing.
Earlier this week it was rumored that contact had been made between the 30-year-old's management and the energy drink owned team, despite the fact that Mark Webber was recently put under contract to be Sebastian Vettel's ongoing teammate in 2010.
"There is only a connection (with Red Bull) as a beverage partner," Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
After breaking his 2010 contract with Ferrari, the 2007 world champion is linked with teams including Toyota and McLaren.
"We are talking with several teams and Red Bull is not among them," Robertson added.10/07/09 (GMM) As expected, the confirmation of Fernando Alonso's move to Ferrari turned the key to kick-starting the 2010 driver market.
Much of the specialist formula one media waited in vain throughout Tuesday for the announcement of Robert Kubica's move to Renault, but the French daily L'Equipe reports that the deal will actually be unveiled on Wednesday.
The hottest new rumor is that McLaren and Toyota are not alone in pushing for Kimi Raikkonen. Germany's Sport Bild reports contact between the Finn's management and Red Bull Racing, despite the fact that Mark Webber was recently put under contract for the 2010 season.
Said Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson: "We are negotiating even with teams that everybody thinks have no vacancies."
Another new rumor is that Renault, even after replacing Fernando Alonso with Kubica, is also on the lookout for a teammate for the 24-year-old Pole.
It is believed team management are not keen on the underperforming rookie Romain Grosjean, who was championed by the disgraced former boss Flavio Briatore.
It is believed Nick Heidfeld is near the top of the list for the drive, after the veteran German always matched up alongside the highly rated Kubica at BMW-Sauber this year.
However, it is understood that Renault is prepared to wait much longer - for instance until January of next year - to confirm the identity of the second driver.
Also in the frame to replace Grosjean are Timo Glock and Adrian Sutil.
Williams is planning an all-new lineup of reigning GP2 champion and rookie Nico Hulkenberg alongside Rubens Barrichello, with the latter Brazilian to be replaced at Brawn by Nico Rosberg.
Likely to be left standing at the end of the musical chairs are drivers like Heikki Kovalainen, Kazuki Nakajima, Jarno Trulli and Grosjean, who may need to look at some of the incoming teams for employment. We have updated our 2010 F1 Silly Season page above.