All of the signs may suggest that Daniel Ricciardo is set to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next season, but the Australian driver is refusing to get his hopes up just in case he is left disappointed.
Webber confirmed at the British Grand Prix that he would not be racing in Formula One next season, instead favoring a move to Porsche’s LMP1 programme in Le Mans. This sparked a race between Ricciardo, teammate Jean-Eric Vergne and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen for the second seat alongside Sebastian Vettel. Vergne was ruled out a few weeks ago by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, whilst Raikkonen confirmed in Belgium that talks with the world champions had broken down. However, Ricciardo is refusing to believe the rumors.
“Until something is done I’m not getting too excited,” he explained to The Telegraph. “Then if it doesn’t happen I won’t kill myself.”
Partnering the potentially-four-time champ Vettel at Red Bull would appear to be a blessing on the face of things, but, as Webber has proven, the German driver is by no means an easy teammate. In Malaysia, Vettel ignored team orders to snatch the win away from Webber, causing their relationship to sour. However, Ricciardo is not expecting an easy ride.
“I am definitely aware that if I do get the opportunity to race alongside [Vettel], it is not going to be easy.
“But I would love to get the opportunity to prove to everyone that I have what it takes, and more than that, to know for myself that I can mix it with the big guys. If I can’t, well, at least I can say I tried. But I believe I can.”
Red Bull are yet to confirm when they will be making an announcement regarding the second seat, but the team have been known to confirm their drivers sooner rather than later.