Negotiations over the futures of both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso could effectively end speculation that the two leading drivers of their generation wind up as team-mates.
While Alonso's long-term future ties him to Ferrari, the past two seasons have been peppered with suggestions that Vettel may join him in a Maranello 'super team'. Various Ferrari sources have claimed that Vettel had an agreement to join the team from 2014, with Stefano Domenicali - and even Vettel himself – doing little to quell the speculation. Only Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken out against the partnership, claiming that it would be difficult to manage two outstanding talents under the same roof.
The Italian repeated that point during the Scuderia's 2013 launch on Friday and, even though he suggested in December that Vettel would be the ideal replacement
for Alonso, the rumour mill is now claiming that Ferrari has reworded Alonso's contract to include a clause preventing the team from signing Vettel whilst the Spaniard remains on board – and the BBC
suggests that that could be longer than expected with a possible extension in the offing.
More importantly, perhaps, is the suggestion that Vettel may also be discussing prolonging relations with his current team beyond the end of his current deal, particularly following Christian Horner's recent contract extension. The German has made no secret of the fact that he enjoys racing for RBR – a joy no doubt helped by the amount of success they have achieved together – despite admitting that he has always dreamed of driving for Ferrari one day. With chief technical officer Adrian Newey also tied to a longer-term deal, the key pieces to future success are already in place, giving Vettel no reason to want to look elsewhere.
Red Bull is due to launch its 2013 campaign later today (Sunday), with Vettel and Mark Webber again leading it into battle with Ferrari and McLaren.