Formula One legend Niki Lauda has encouraged Red Bull to sign Kimi Raikkonen as a replacement for Mark Webber.
Webber’s relationship with the team appears to be at an all time low following the multi 21 debacle in Malaysia, which saw Sebastian Vettel overtake his teammate against team orders.
Although Webber insists that no decisions have been made about his future, Lauda believes that Red Bull should set their sights on 2007 world champion Raikkonen.
“If I was Red Bull and I wanted to change something with the drivers, then I would definitely go for Kimi,” Lauda told Bild.
“He is sensational. A cool guy, and absolutely on the level of Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton. Kimi is definitely a title contender.
“He is the best driver on the market by far.”
Lotus has insisted that Raikkonen will remain with the team for 2014, but the Finnish driver does have connections with Red Bull following his stint in the World Rally Championship, where he was sponsored by the energy drink giant. Although Raikkonen does seem very happy at Lotus, the lure of a triple championship team could be too much to resist.
SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.
SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.
Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.
The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.
SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.
Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.