Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner admitted that it was “probably” a straight fight between Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo for the empty seat at Red Bull next year, but who’s the right man for the job?
Since the weekend of the British Grand Prix when Mark Webber announced his retirement tongues have been wagging about who will replace the Australian.
To many Raikkonen seems like the obvious choice; he has an impressive CV with 10 and a half years experience in Formula 1, winning the 2007 world championship and a comeback which has been a glowing success.
At the start of next season the Milton Keynes based team will be entering their 10th year in the sport and have long proved that they’re a serious team and are so much more than ‘just a drinks company’. Since the team appear to have no intention of giving up dominating the sport, Raikkonen seems like an excellent choice.
Off track Raikkonen and Vettel are good friends who apparently enjoy a good game of badminton but it’s hard to imagine that relationship could weather being teammates.
As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, Vettel isn’t exactly happy to yield to his teammate and it’s hard to imagine Raikkonen would be happy to play second driver.
Sure, Raikkonen is the more talented option, but it could cause a lot of hassle for the team trying to deal with the two drivers.
As long Vettel is capable of winning the drivers championship, the team don’t really need a fellow world champion alongside him, all they really need is a pretty good driver.
Which brings us nicely to candidate number two; Daniel Ricciardo. The young Australian certainly isn’t as experienced as Raikkonen but during his two years in the sport he’s done a great job of proving his worth.
Red Bull certainly aren’t going to look down on a driver with two years experience in the sport, after all Vettel only spent two and a half years in the sport before joining the team; what they want is a fast driver who can help them continue winning both championships.
Being inexperienced in comparison to Raikkonen isn’t exactly a bad thing, as the team can use both theirs and Vettel’s knowledge to mould him into a world champion and having only just turned 24 years old Ricciardo’s got a fair few seasons left in the sport.
On the second day of the Silverstone Young Driver Test / tyre test Ricciardo topped the timesheets in his Toro Rosso in the morning session and spent the afternoon effectively ‘trying out’ in the RB9.
Following a year and a half with Toro Rosso, Ricciardo is probably used to the number of sponsorship events Red Bull drivers are expected to do. Raikkonen on the other hand is famous for not particularly liking to do sponsorship events, though I imagine the team could reduce the number of sponsorship days if they wanted him badly enough.
What’s clear is that both drivers are worthy and the current world champions are going to have a tough time agonising over who should partner Vettel next year.
Image courtesy of Octane Photography