In the end, the only surprise was that the team did not wait until the Italian Grand Prix
as it had suggested, as Red Bull
finally confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo would indeed be partnering world champion Sebastian Vettel
in next year's line-up.
Preferring to announce the deal after Tuesday's newspapers had gone to print and a lot of the F1 fraternity were at the Rush
premiere in London, Red Bull
noted that Australian Ricciardo had signed a multi-year agreement with the Milton Keynes squad, confirming compatriot - and predecessor - Mark Webber's claim from Spa that a deal had been done and was 'good for Australia'. Red Bull
had suggested that it would be in a position to confirm its line-up 'by the end of August', which many expected to bring an announcement at the Belgian Grand Prix, but then started the Spa weekend by delaying confirmation until Monza, and prompting speculation that it was back in negotiation with any number of alternatives.
“It's fantastic to confirm Daniel as the team's race driver for 2014," RBR principal Christian Horner said, "He's a very talented youngster, he's committed, he's got a great attitude and, in the end, it was a very logical choice for us to choose Daniel."
Ricciardo becomes the second Red Bull
protege to graduate to the drinks giant's senior team, following in the footsteps of his new team-mate, who jumped from Toro Rosso
to RBR in 2009.
"Daniel joined the Red Bull
Junior Team in 2008 and we've seen in his junior career, in F3 and Renault
World Series, that he's capable of winning races and championships. He's stood out in each of these categories and we've followed his progress with great interest. He's got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he's got a great natural ability, he's a good personality and a great guy to work with."
While few expect Ricciardo to challenge Vettel, at least early in their partnership, Horner insists that RBR will want him to show progress.
"Daniel knows what the team expects from him," the Briton said, "He'll learn quickly and it's very much a medium- to long-term view that we're taking in developing him. The seat within the team is a wonderful opportunity and I think he's going to be a big star of the future.”