Sebastian Vettel turns 26 on Wednesday but it is unlikely that the presents will include the naming of a new teammate for the Formula One world champion from next year onwards.
Mark Webber’s announcement that he will leave F1 after the season to race Porsche sports cars has left Red Bull with the dilemma about what kind of driver is to partner the German in the future.
Team principal Christian Horner appears to favour former champion Kimi Raikkonen to have the best possible line-up in search of another constructors’ title.
Influential Red Bull motorsport chief Helmut Marko prefers a young driver from Red Bull’s own programme, Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both race for sister team Toro Rosso.
Other drivers may be available as well as Red Bull aim to make their decision by the end of summer, but Horner told Sky Sports last week that “the reality is that it’s probably between those three.”
“We want the fastest line-up that we can and Kimi’s obviously an attractive option,” Horner said, adding that “the youngsters (Ricciardo and Vergne) are attractive as well” and that Red Bull will not rush to a decision.
Horner knows that “you don’t win this (constructors’) title with just one driver,” and Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz in spring named the Finn “cool and fast and always a candidate.” Marko prefers the young driver option, which would also show future talent that they can rise to the top through Red Bull.
Ricciardo said that “in a perfect world” either he or Vergne should get Webber’s car because that is the whole idea behind the talent programme.