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Who could partner Vettel at Red Bull in 2014?

Mar 31, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

F1 Young Driver Tests - Abu Dhabi Getty Images

Two races in to the 2013 Formula One season, and questions about next season are already beginning to arise. Following the incident between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia, and Christian Horner’s subsequent claim that Webber would have made the same move, it appears that Red Bull will be seeking a new driver for the 2014 season. Therefore, who is in the running to join Vettel in Milton Keynes?

Nico Hulkenberg

Would it be so crazy for Nico Hulkenberg to join a fourth team for his fourth season of Formula One next year? When you have as much talent as he does, certainly not. Hulkenberg has already proven that he can qualify strongly (putting his Williams on pole for the 2010 Brazilian GP), and even manage a race in the lead (2012 Brazilian GP). With Helmut Marko calling him a “future champion”, Red Bull could opt for an all-German line up in 2014.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo

Ever since Scuderia Toro Rosso was set up in 2006, the team has always been the ‘feeder team’ to Red Bull Racing. However, Sebastian Vettel is the only driver to have gone on to bigger things, whilst the rest of the drivers have been dropped by the team, and in some cases, Red Bull altogether. Although Vergne and Ricciardo are yet to match Vettel’s stint with Toro Rosso, they have both shown signs of speed. However, they may be more focused on staying in Formula One instead of joining the champion team, and they will need to improve on their one point haul in 2013 so far.

Sebastien Buemi

Buemi is one of the drivers to have been dropped by Toro Rosso, but he joined Red Bull as their official test driver in 2012, and if Webber was to walk away before the end of the season, he would be the obvious choice. However, Buemi’s lack of true success could put off Red Bull, and he is only likely to be approached if they fail to land Hulkenberg. Regardless, his name will definitely be thrown around when a decision needs to be made.

Antonio Félix da Costa

The young upstart from Portugal has turned many heads in motorsport over the past twelve months. As well as finishing third in GP3 last season, da Costa finished fourth in Formula Renault 3.5 despite only completing two-thirds of the season. He has impressed in the Young Driver Tests, and at 21 years of age, da Costa is unquestionably a star for the future. In an ideal world, he would slot into the Toro Rosso setup, but Red Bull could reap the rewards if they take a gamble by promoting da Costa early. As McLaren proved with Lewis Hamilton in 2007, sometimes a rookie driver isn’t always a bad thing…


Could we see a turn around in relations at Red Bull though? If Mark Webber can have a strong 2013 season, he could make all questions about a replacement worthless, and perhaps even challenge Vettel for supremacy in the team.

  1. apexassassin - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    And what about Kimi’s strong ties to Red Bull??? Not to mention his friendship with Vettel and strong desire to outperform Ferrari and Mclaren? If Lotus fails to develope the car to keep up with the big teams, Kimi is my pick to replace the aging and jaded Webber.

    And another great what if would be what if Ferrari keep forcing Massa to play second fiddle to Alonso? Having witnessed Baricello’s career and Schumi’s ousting, I think ol Massa might surprise everyone and jump teams.

    Hulk, too tall (and too fast) for Ferrari but would fit into Webber’s car comfortably… and like Luke says in the article, Marko has been paying close attention to the Hulk’s career.

    Everyone else mentioned in the article has very little hope of making the jump up to IRBR. Costa might be able to do it, someday, but he won’t jump straight to the big team as a rookie. They’d make him do a season at Toro first.

  2. bikingscr016 - Mar 31, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    I agree with most of your points apex, but I can’t possibly imagine Kimi going anywhere where he would be the “#2” driver. Even if Red Bull wouldn’t play favorites, we just saw last week how Vettel handles being #2. My best guess would be either Vergne or Hulk.

    • apexassassin - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      I just brought up Kimi because of his strong ties to Red Bull and Vettel, I never stated he’d play #2.

      Hulk? He’s not going to play #2 either.

      Though if it were up to me I’d pay Massa a fortune to be #2 at RBR.

      Toro’s drivers aren’t exactly impressive, so I wouldn’t look to see either of them get promoted. Replaced, but not promoted.

    • apexassassin - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:30 AM

  3. alicesrightfootesq - Mar 31, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    They need someone who is willing to play to #2 to Vettel. A lesser skilled or young, up-and-coming driver who is trying to prove himself would slot in nicely. Hyper competitve vets like Massa or Raikkonen who every bit the talent Vettel is aren’t (and shouldn’t) going to tolerate being his wingman.

    • apexassassin - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Alonso is the king of NEEDING a weaker second driver. His contract even includes him having final say. Vettel’s, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t.

      History proves having a clear #1 driver is the best way to secure both championships, but only time will tell who Seb’s partner will be. If the did hire a pure #2 driver, they could really have a run at some of the records we all thought were unbreakable a few years ago.

      Like it or not, agree or not, Vettel and RBR have earned their place in the history books as Legends.

  4. techmeister1 - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    Red Bull should hire Hamilton. Then they could crash each other out on the first turn of the first lap of every race and the rest of the field could have a good race.

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