Webber commits to Red Bull
Aussie will continue to partner Sebastian Vettel next season
Last Updated: 10/07/12 3:15pm
Mark Webber has committed to the Red Bull team for the 2013 season.
The Australian has been heavily linked with a move to Ferrari, but has opted instead to stay with the Milton Keynes outfit.
Born: 27/8/1976, Queanbeyan, New South Wales.
1991: Takes up karting.
1994: Switches to Formula Ford, moving to Europe the following year.
1997: British F3.
1999: Sportscar racing for Mercedes, first F1 test for Arrows.
2001: runner-up in F3000, test driver for Benetton.
2002: F1 debut for Minardi, finishes fifth in first race (Melbourne).
2003: Joins Jaguar.
2005: Joins Williams, first podium at Monaco.
2007: Joins Red Bull.
2009: First victory at Nurburgring.
2010: Title contender but team-mate Sebastian Vettel becomes Champion.
2011: Struggles as Vettel retains title with ease.
2012: Wins Monaco and British GPs. Signs new one-year contract for Red Bull.
"No big surprise there, suspect they needed to sign him up before somebody else did. Like Ferrari," tweeted Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle.
The team have also confirmed that 'as Sebastian Vettel is already contracted to Red Bull Racing, this confirms the Team's 2013 driver line-up.'
"As there was a strong desire from both sides to continue the partnership, it was a logical decision to extend our relationship and it is with great pleasure that we confirm Mark will drive for us in 2013," confirmed team boss Christian Horner.
In a statement announcing his contract extension, this weekend's British GP victor said: "I've been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have achieved nine grand prix wins during that time. I'm high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. I know the Team well and I'm very comfortable here; we have grown together over the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for another season.
"The Team is constantly working hard to improve in all areas and we've shown that together we can win races. It's great to be able to make this announcement off the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I'm looking forward to competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season."
The announcement effectively marks the first major piece of next year's driver line-up falling into place and is bound to have significant ramifications on the destination of other top-line stars.
Most critically of all, the news that a vacancy at Red Bull will not now be available heightens the expectation that Lewis Hamilton, whose contract with McLaren expires at the end of the year, will stay on as Jenson Button's team-mate.
Ferrari, however, have been left in a quandary. Webber is widely believed to have been the team's favoured replacement for the under-performing Felipe Massa, but the Australian's decision to stay at Red Bull may now hand the Brazilian an unexpected reprieve. Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta remain alternative options if Ferrari do, though, decide to dispense with Massa's services.
Webber, who turns 36 next month, said he had talked to Ferrari about a possible move but in the end decided that continuity was more important.
"There were discussions with Ferrari, but my decision was to stay here," he said. "I virtually know everyone's shoe size! I know everyone's names, I know how everyone ticks and I know all the departments which is very, very important for a driver. There's a whole raft of factors."
The most important factor of all in Webber's thinking, however, is surely Red Bull's position as defending two-time World Constructors' Champions.
The decision also means that his partnership with Vettel, currently in its fourth season, is set to continue for another year at least.
The two have not seen eye-to-eye on occasion - most notably when both were title contenders in 2010 - but Webber insisted that the pairing is a proven one.
"Obviously with Seb, we've worked very, very close together for a long period of time now. I think no-one would really have envisaged how long we have worked together, so that's probably been a bit of a surprise," he admitted.
"There are not many team-mates staying together for that long in Formula One, but it's proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with the key technical members of the team. It's been a potent operation.
"We're still competitive when we hit the track, no question about it, especially in 2010 and this year. Last year there wasn't much racing between Sebastian and I, but in 2009, 2010 and this year, there have been some great battles.
"That's been enjoyable for the team, sometimes stressful too as it's not easy for both of us to be at the front and I can understand that, as both of us are thinking about ourselves sometimes, but ultimately we know that we need to get the cars home and get the best results for us and the team."