Formula One driver Mark Webber has put all of the attention of the motorsports world on Red Bull Racing before the British Grand Prix this weekend, announcing that he will not be returning to the team in 2014. Rather, Webber will go back to endurance racing, where he will compete with Porsche in the 2014 World Endurance Championship.
Webber has run for the Red Bull Racing team since 2007 with great success, but has always been overshadowed by teammate Sebastian Vettel. The young triple world champion has always had a strained relationship with his Australian teammate, which peaked at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix when the teammates collided while battling for the lead.
At this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix Vettel ignored team orders to not pass Webber, gaining the win himself on a rather risky move. Although Webber has refused to admit it, this appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Since he entered Formula One, Webber has attempted to avoid the politics of the sport, but that seemed impossible with his role at Red Bull.
Overall, Webber sounds like he has no intention to return to Formula One. Now 36, he is a veteran who can race anywhere he wants, while avoiding the politics and drama of Formula One. In 203 starts, Webber has proved himself an incredible teammate, winning nine races, and contending for multiple drivers championships.
With regards to who will now gain access to the most coveted open seat in motorsports at seasons end, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has indicated he wishes to lure Kimi Raikkonen away from rival Lotus GP.
If unable to do so, Red Bull’s junior team Scuederia Toro Rosso has two young, improving drivers who may be ready to advance to the main team in Daniel Riccardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Other drivers with Red Bull connections include current Red Bull Racing test driver Sebastien Buemi and current Pirelli test driver Jaime Alguersuari, both capable of advancing to the junior team.
As the rest of the season unfolds, it should be phenomenal to see what Riccardo and Vergne can do, how Webber will end his run at Red Bull, and if Kimi Raikkonen will actually move to Red Bull. Despite not being one for drama, Mark Webber has certainly created a lot by announcing his departure from Red Bull today.
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