Red Bull Racing has finally announced its second driver for next year, and it is Daniel Ricciardo who will be Sebastian Vettel’s teammate. The 24-year-old Toro Rosso driver replaces fellow Australian Mark Webber, who is leaving F1 for sportscar racing with Porsche.
Ricciardo, who has been sponsored by Red Bull since 2008, fended off competition from Lotus’ ex-champ Kimi Raikkonen for the seat, after talks between the Finn and RBR broke down last month. Webber’s seat is part of a multi-year agreement between the two parties.
“It’s fantastic to confirm Daniel as the team’s race driver for 2014. He’s a very talented youngster, he’s committed, he’s got a great attitude and in the end it was a very logical choice for us to choose Daniel,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“Daniel knows what the team expects from him; he’ll learn quickly and it’s very much a medium to long term view that we’re taking in developing him. The seat within the team is a wonderful opportunity and I think he’s going to be a big star of the future,” he added.
Adrian Newey explained the choice. “Since Mark announced his retirement, Christian and I have been looking carefully at the driver market, along with Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz. We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level, or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they’ll develop to a very high level.
“We looked at the latter option and concluded that of the younger drivers, Daniel is the most promising. The decision actually reminded me a little bit of a similar situation we had when I was at Williams. Nigel Mansell was leaving and we needed someone alongside Alain Prost. We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time. I think it’s good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance.”