MAY 14, 2010
Could Webber have a Ferrari future?
Rumours in Monte Carlo suggest that Spanish GP winner Mark Webber could have a future with Ferrari.
Webber's Red Bull deal expires at the end of 2010 while team mate Sebastian Vettel is on a longer term contract. While few see the sense in Red Bull changing its current line-up, Kimi Raikkonen has also been linked to the team and it could be that owner Dietrich Mateschitz may want to promote one of the young Toro Rosso drivers, Sebastian Buemi or Jaime Alguersuari to the frontline team.
Ferrari rumours have been fuelled by a comment from Stefano Domenicali in the aftermath of Barcelona. Asked to comment on Red Bull's performance, the Scuderia's sporting director said: "They did a good step but in all honesty, today we saw the performance of Mark Webber, so we need to keep that as a reference on our side." He may have meant a reference as far as Ferrari's chassis performance was concerned, but then again he may not.
Ferrari is understood to have a 2011 option on Renault's Robert Kubica, said to end in July, and if the team does not take it up and fails to extend Felipe Massa's contract, Webber could be a logical choice.
Ferrari signed double world champion Alonso on the condition that he would be a 'team player' driving for Ferrari and not for himself, so it would probably be fanciful to suggest that the Spaniard would have any right of veto in the selection of his team mate. Alonso is a close friend of Kubica but whether he would want the Pole alongside him at Ferrari is another matter. Kubica's impressive form continued on the opening day in Monaco and it could be that the Ferrari management may regard an Alonso/Kubica combination as potentially explosive.
Alonso and Webber also get along well, knowing each other from Benetton days when Webber was test driver, and it could be that Alonso may see Webber as a less threatening option than Kubica. Webber's performance level at Red Bull has been very close to that of Sebastian Vettel and sometimes better, as in Spain, and with Vettel earmarked by some as 'the new Schumacher' it is easy to see how the 33-year-old Aussie could be an attractive proposition for Maranello.
The move would also complete a circle for Webber himself. In 2005 he had the opportunity to drive for Renault alongside Alonso instead of Giancarlo Fisichella, but passed it up in favour of a move to Williams from Jaguar. Webber then had to watch as Alonso won back-to-back world championships as he failed to win a race, a fact then manager Flavio Briatore reminded him of on a fortnightly basis...