Filling Webber's seat and joining multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel at Infiniti Red Bull Racing next season will be Daniel Ricciardo. An Australian like Webber, Ricciardo followed a similar path to Vettel, advancing through Red Bull's driver development program and starting out with the 'junior squad' at Scuderia Toro Rosso. Although Vettel had already won his first grand prix by the time he was called up point, Ricciardo has yet to score a podium finish. He has, however, proven his mettle by winning both the Formula Renault 2.0 and British Formula Three championships.
Choosing an up-and-comer like Ricciardo instead of bringing in an established talent like Kimi Raikkonen was undoubtedly a difficult decision for team principal Christian Horner, technical director Adrian Newey, Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz and his racing deputy Helmut Marko. But in the end the decision reminded Newey of his days at Williams when they had to find a replacement for Nigel Mansell to partner with Alain Prost. They went with their test driver Damon Hill, who went on to win the world championship. Whether Ricciardo can live up to expectations remains to be seen, but there'll be plenty of people watching to find out. In the meantime you can watch the brief video clip and read the official announcement below.
DAN'S THE MAN FOR 2014
We confirm that Daniel Ricciardo will drive for the Team in 2014. As Sebastian Vettel is already confirmed for next year, this concludes the Team's 2014 driver line-up.
Christian Horner: "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. He joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2008 and we've seen in his junior career in Formula 3 and Renault World Series that he's capable of winning races and championships. He's stood out in each of these categories and we've followed his progress with great interest. He's got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he's got a great natural ability, he's a good personality and a great guy to work with. 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."
Adrian Newey: "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. From Red Bull's point of view that also fits well because the driver that Christian and I feel is the most promising is part of the Red Bull young driver programme. 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."
Daniel Ricciardo: "I feel very, very good at the moment and obviously there's a lot of excitement running through me. Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and over time the belief in me has grown; I had some good results and Red Bull has decided that this is it, so it's a good time. Next year I'll be with a Championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I'm ready for that. I'm not here to run around in tenth place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team. I would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. I know the team quite well already since being its reserve driver in 2010, which should make the transition easier. It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel, I'm looking forward to that. My aim is to finish this season as strong as possible, for myself and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Then, once the off-season is here, I'll be fully focussed on next year and the next stage of my career."