Sebastian Vettel has expressed his disappointment now it seems that Kimi Raikkonen will not join Red Bull Racing for the 2014 F1 season.
Raikkonen had been one of the favourites to replace Mark Webber, although paddock gossip now suggests that Daniel Ricciardo will get the nod.
Speaking during the build-up to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, the eleventh round in the 2013 F1 World Championship, Vettel added that he is hopeful, however, they might still end up as team-mates in the not-too-distant future.
"First of all, I didn't know how realistic it was or not,” Vettel said, when asked about the Raikkonen-Red Bull rumours. “Obviously I have learned – like most of us, from the press, that it looks like it won't be the case now [and Kimi won't be joining Red Bull]. I'm talking to the team but as I have said many times it's not my decision. I don't want to get involved.
"It would have been nice in many ways to have Kimi as a team-mate, but now it's not happening it doesn't make much sense to talk about it. But who knows? He is young, I'm still young, so a lot of things can happen - never say never. But probably for next year it's not going to happen.”
Raikkonen is now expected to either stay with Lotus or move back to Ferrari, although Vettel is not convinced that the latter is a 'realistic' prospect.
“I get along quite well with Kimi and I would be pleased if he finds a spot where he is happy,” Vettel continued. “He has a good seat at the moment though with Lotus, but if he can improve then I would be happy for him. Kimi is very straightforward, you don't get any bullshit or politics with him, but I don't know how realistic it is for him to return to the Scuderia. Obviously he has been there already. Then Fernando [Alonso] came and Kimi left to go rallying. I think he is very uncomplicated.”
Meanwhile, Vettel said he is optimistic about his chances of winning the Drivers' Championship for a fourth time this year: “We have had a great first part of the season. Looking at the calendar, we are all going to be very busy now. But we have every reason to be confident. We have a strong package and it should be good enough to fight for victories,” he stated.
“For us, it is not important to pick out one particular driver or team [as our main challenger]. We have to get our stuff together and as I said, we have a great car, a great team and overall a strong package,” he added.
“Mercedes have been very competitive, not just with Lewis [Hamilton] but also Nico [Rosberg]. We know they are very strong in qualifying, and in Hungary they had the ability to show their speed in the race as well.
“In the last couple of races, they have been the most competitive, but Lotus have always been there scoring points and Ferrari, although they are in a bit of a low at the moment, they still have good points [too]. We need to keep all the drivers' and teams in mind and then see what happens.”