JULY 10, 2012
Mark Webber extends Red Bull contract
Just 36 hours after Christian Horner said that he would "sit down during the summer" with Mark Webber to discuss the future, Red Bull Racing has announced that the British Grand Prix winner's contract has been extended to the end of 2013. If Horner has found some summer in the UK, we'd like to know where!
On the announcement of the news, Webber said: "I've been with Red Bull since 2007 and have achieved nine grand prix wins during that time. I'm high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. I know the team very well and I'm very comfortable here; we have grown over the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for another season. It's great to be able to make the announcement off the back of the win at Silverstone."
Team principal Horner added: "Mark has driven very well in the first nine races of this season and his performance has been impressive. As there was a strong desire from both sides to continue the partnership, it was a logical decision."
The news has strong implications for the driver market as it closes one potential door for Lewis Hamilton, who is out of contract with McLaren at the end of the season. There was speculation at Silverstone that if Webber joined Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, Hamilton would fancy moving to Red Bull and taking on Sebastian Vettel in the same car.
With the Ferrari door also closed to Hamilton, his negotiating position with McLaren appears to be weakened. While the Lotus E20 has been one of the most impressive cars on the grid in 2012, it is unlikely that the team could pay the sort of retainer that Hamilton would demand if, for example, it decided to try to pair Lewis with Romain Grosjean.
With Felipe Massa showing improved recent form, it looks as if Horner could have been right when he predicted in Valencia that all the major players would likely stay where they are in 2013.