Horner: No doubt that Vettel would extend contract

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Christian Horner has said that he never had any doubt that Sebastian Vettel would extend his contract with Red Bull Racing, calling the deal a “formality”.

Vettel joined the team in 2009 and has won three drivers’ world championships with Red Bull, and it was confirmed earlier this week that the German driver has extended his contract with the team until the end of 2015. To Horner though, it was merely a formality.

Talking to Press Association, Horner said: “It was more of a formality than anything else. We have a long-term agreement with Sebastian, and it was just perfect timing for both sides to extend for another year.”

Rumors had been circulating which suggested that the youngest ever world champion may desire a change of team in order to prove that he can win in more than one car, with Ferrari and Mercedes mooted as potential destinations. However, Horner sees no reason for Vettel to walk away at the end of his deal.

“He’s been part of the Red Bull family, since starting out as a junior, for more than 12 years now, so he’s grown up with Red Bull.  He’s achieved all 29 victories in cars designed by Adrian [Newey], and he is still growing and developing as a driver.

“He enjoys the environment he is working in, we enjoy having him and working with him. It’s a relationship that works.”

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.