Sebastian Vettel hasn't expressed a 2014 team-mate preference, insists Christian Horner
Red Bull chief also confident team could handle two star drivers
Last Updated: 09/08/13 1:39pm
Red Bull chief Christian Horner says that Sebastian Vettel has not tried to exert any influence over the team's decision on who partners him in their line-up for 2014.
The World Champions are thought to be using the summer break to deliberate on who represents the best option to replace Mark Webber when the Australian retires at the end of the season, with Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull junior Daniel Ricciardo still the leading two candidates for the coveted seat.
On learning that he would have a change in his team-mate for the first time since joining Red Bull in 2009, Vettel admitted it "would be nice, of course, to get asked if you have a good relationship" with a prospective candidate but stressed he didn't expect the team to give him a direct role in the process.
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And although Vettel did respond to blockbuster rumours at the Hungarian GP that his chief title rival of recent seasons Fernando Alonso could yet prove a shock candidate for the seat by making clear that "I'd prefer Kimi", his team boss has stressed that the triple champion hasn't attempted to sway Red Bull's decision-making process.
"I don't think he minds to be honest," Horner replied when asked about Vettel's position over his 2014 team-mate.
"I don't think Sebastian has any concerns about going up against any driver, and he hasn't voiced a preference either way.
"He knows Kimi, he knows Daniel. Both are very quick drivers and would represent a challenge for him, but he has not looked to influence the team in any way as to which way we should be looking."
Although Webber is a nine-times grand prix race winner himself, any arrival at Red Bull for Raikkonen would undoubtedly create a new dynamic at the team given both the Finn and Vettel have won the World Championship.
Horner, however, has insisted that Red Bull could manage having two big-name drivers in the same team.
"Both drivers get the same opportunity," Horner insisted.
"It's down to what they do on the track that determines who is the lead driver or not, and the lead driver at any given time is the one who has the most points."
Horner challenges Ricciardo
Red Bull have indicated that an announcement regarding Webber's successor is likely to be made at one of the next two grand prix, Spa and Monza. Raikkonen and Ricciardo remain the favourites for the drive despite the excitement created by the unexpected Alonso speculation after the Spaniard's manager and Horner were seen in conversation at the Hungaroring.
Although Flavio Briatore, a confidant of Alonso and still part of the Spaniard's management team, insisted last week that the double world champion wasn't angling for a move away from Ferrari, speculation has continued into the summer break that the 32-year-old is assessing his options.
Earlier this week the Daily Mail reported that it 'understands Briatore's view is certainly not shared by Red Bull's powerbrokers and that Alonso, who has remained tight-lipped regarding his future, is still very much under consideration.
'Alonso is understood to have break clauses in his deal with Ferrari and has already demonstrated he is prepared to turn his back on one of the biggest names in Formula One after he walked out on McLaren after just one tumultuous year sharing a garage with Lewis Hamilton.'