F1 » 1 July 2013
Dan the man for Webber
Daniel Ricciardo receives Mark Webber's backing in the race to replace his countryman at Red Bull next season, but is a surprise contender sneaking into the frame?
Daniel Ricciardo appears to a popular choice to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next season, not least with the two current incumbents at the Milton Keynes team.
Webber himself has lent his support to his fellow Australian as speculation puts Ricciardo in the frame along with Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne and Lotus ace Kimi Raikkonen. While the Finn appears most people's favourite to form the next Red Bull 'super team' alongside Sebastian Vettel, however, Webber is backing Ricciardo's bid.
"We've already had a few little chats, but we can have some more in the future," the veteran told BBC Radio after the pair finished second and eighth respectively in the British Grand Prix, "I think he's in the box seat. He deserves it and he's done the yards over here in Europe early doors. He's been on the canvas a few times and got back up and that's part of the rules.”
Vettel, meanwhile, insists that he isn't concerned by who partners him in 2014, even if Red Bull's choice is another Australian.
“I think, first, you should see the individual rather than the country where he comes from - I haven't got a problem with Australia,” the German told journalists after qualifying at Silverstone, “I like going there, it's a nice track, we go every year too, so I'm looking forward to going back next year….
“Congratulations to Daniel. It seems that both of [the Toro Rosso drivers], the whole weekend, had a car that was good enough to show their potential, so I'm happy for them.”
While Raikkonen remains the popular favourite to succeed Webber, another name has crept into the frame, with the bookmakers at least.
According to UK-based Sky Bet, Jenson Button's odds have been slashed following a run of wagers on him quitting the struggling McLaren squad in favour of a move to Milton Keynes. Button's price, less than 24 hours after he finished 13th in his home grand prix, was slashed from 66/1 to just 9/2, making him the second favourite in the race to replace Webber, behind Raikkonen, who remains the odds-on favourite at 8/13. Ricciardo currently sits at 11/2, with team-mate Vergne at 6/1. Paul di Resta is 20/1.
"We've had new customers signing up specifically to lump on Button it seems, but we're unsure of their motives,” Sky Bet F1 trader Tamas Feher confirmed, "Despite McLaren's poor season, Button appears fairly content where he is, so perhaps our punters just felt the odds were too long to overlook."
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