Horner: Plenty of driver options for 2014

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Christian Horner has said that Red Bull are in no rush to confirm who will be partnering Sebastian Vettel at the team next season, believing that they have “no shortage of choice” when it comes to finding a driver.

After the multi 21 fiasco unravelled at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Webber appears to be on his way out of the team. His destination, be it another Formula One team or a different racing series altogether, is unknown, but Horner’s comments suggest that the team is not yet ready to consider candidates his seat.

“It is much too early thinking about drivers for next year,” Horner explained to the official Formula One website. “Sebastian is clear – and everything else will fall into place towards the end of the summer. There is no pre-conception.”

Horner has also said that Sebastian Vettel will not have a great influence on who his teammate will be, despite the inter-team rivalry causing this chain of events.

“He is going to do the best job for himself. And to say, ‘this one, yes’ and, ‘this one, no’ was never Sebastian’s style, to dictate, ‘I must have this or that’. He is a sporting guy and has never pressured the team into doing things for his own benefit.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso entered the sport in 2006 as a feeder team to Red Bull, but Vettel is the only driver to have made the jump between the teams. With Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo both impressing lately, many believe that one of them could join Vettel, but Horner will only be looking for the best driver available, regardless of what team they drive for.

“Our objectives are very simple: we want the best two drivers in our cars. If they come from Toro Rosso, fantastic as they develop nicely. But we always push to have the best two drivers available.

“There is no shortage of choice.”

The race for the second seat at Red Bull certainly appears to be hotting up. Nico Hulkenberg, who many believed was the natural choice, has endured a poor start to the season, whilst the departure of James Allison from Lotus has sparked rumors that Kimi Raikkonen could make the move. Going by Horner’s comments though, we will not know the identity of Sebastian Vettel’s teammate until the summer at the very earliest.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.