If current Formula One media rumblings are accurate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo will team with three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull Infiniti Racing for the 2014 season. An official announcement is expected this weekend during the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.
After weeks of speculation that Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen could accept a Red Bull offer to fill Mark Webber’s vacated 2014 race seat, team principal Christian Horner has apparently promoted the 24-year-old Ricciardo based on strong race, qualifying and testing performances this season with Red Bull’s junior team, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Raikkonen, who was on the short list of driving talent vying for the coveted Red Bull seat, was reportedly unsuccessful in coming to terms with the Milton Keynes-based team. Kimi’s manager, Steve Robertson, told BBS Sport that his client and Red Bull were unable to agree on a contract, stating, "Talks broke down. We haven't spoken for a little while and it's clear Kimi won't be driving for Red Bull in 2014."
Again, it would not be surprising if Raikkonen returns to his current Lotus F1 team for 2014, especially if the Enstone-based team's financials are strengthened by sealing its pending deal with Infinity Racing.
But speculation remains that Raikkonen, now with one less option for 2014, could still end up leaving Lotus to drive for Scuderia Ferrari next year, replacing either Felipe Massa or, although unlikely, Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari continues to deny any interest in bringing Raikkonen back to the Scuderia and insists its focus is not currently on their driver line-up.
However, rumors persist that, despite contractual obligation to Ferrari in 2014, Alonso could still part ways with Maranello to join Red Bull. This speculation is largely based on a media-escalated falling-out between the two-time F1 world champion and Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo. Most F1 observers see an Alonso move to Red Bull in 2014 as an unlikely and ill-advised scenario.
There’s never a dull moment in F1, even during the mid-season break.