Sebastian Vettel has shrugged off the heightened debate about the identity of his 2014 team-mate at Red Bull Racing, insisting that he will still want to beat him.
Even before Mark Webber formally announced that he was to quit F1 at the end of the current campaign, there had been speculation about who may partner Vettel next year, with the Australian's name being bandied about with the like Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen, but Vettel insists that, while it would be nice to have a say, he's not too concerned about who may be lining up on the other side of the garage.
“In the end, it is not so important who your team-mate is,” he told the official F1 website, “You want to beat them everyone - including your team-mate.
“I do not really expect that the team will involve me in the search. It would be nice, of course, to get asked if you have a good relationship, but bear in mind that we only found out yesterday morning that Mark has decided to stop racing in F1, so the situation is rather new for all of us and no route has been defined.”
Asked if he favoured any of the candidates being put forward by the rumour mill, Vettel insisted that his opinion would not carry much weight.
“Let's put it this way: one driver will stay, one has decided to leave and, over the next couple of weeks, there will be a decision made to fill up this void!” he joked, “Of course, it makes sense to look at the junior team if you have one, but I don't know if that is mandatory. Yes, it would make sense, but it also makes sense to look around and get the best possible choice for the team.
[Raikkonen and I] get along very well, we have never had an issue on the track, and should there one day be an issue we will sit down and talk. That is all that can be said right now. In any case, it is not my call.”
The reasons behind Webber's decision remain subject to conjecture, despite the Australian claiming that he knew it was time to move on, but Vettel echoes his team-mate insistence that their various spats had little do with it.
“I don't think so,” he said, “If you remember back to Turkey 2010, we also had a different opinion on how things should go, but we had very successful years after that.