29 October 2013
Horner: No doubts over Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo may have scored a single point since being confirmed as a Red Bull driver for 2014, but Christian Horner maintains that he is the right man to partner Sebastian Vettel next season.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists that there have been no second thoughts over the signing of Daniel Ricciardo as Mark Webber's replacement, despite the younger Australian seeing his results drop off since the deal was announced.
In similar fashion to Sergio Perez's lack of production once his move to McLaren had been confirmed last season, Ricciardo – whose new ride was confirmed far earlier in the season – had failed to add to his tally before claiming the final point on offer in Sunday's Indian Grand Prix, but Horner maintains that the Toro Rosso prospect is still the right man for the role, despite having both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso touted as alternatives.
“Absolutely - without a shadow of a doubt!” Horner told the official F1 website when asked whether he would make the same decision again, “Daniel's performances have continued to impress us with the equipment that he has at his disposal.
“The determining factor was the test that he did for us at Silverstone, as well as the background knowledge that we have of him, whether from the simulator or previous testing he has conducted for the team. He has a huge amount of natural speed and a great deal of talent. The only thing he lacks is experience. We have been considering our options for next year for a long time and we all firmly believe that Daniel is the right man for us.”
Webber's much-reported exit, the veteran bound for a return to sportscars with Porsche, comes as F1 moves from its long-standing current formula to an all-new era with turbocharged V6 engines and greater use of energy regeneration technology, and Horner is quick to repeat his belief that the Australian is getting out at the right time, despite continuity being an F1 watchword at times of change.
“The timing was right for Mark to decide to leave, and I think it is a natural timing - with a big regulation change - to have a change in the driver line-up,” he claimed, “The racing next year will be very different to the racing this year, and drivers and teams will have to adapt. It's a clean sheet of paper for everybody and it doesn't really matter so much how many years a driver has under his belt.”
While four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel provides the continuity for Red Bull, design guru Adrian Newey's preparation has been hit by news that head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou will be moving to McLaren. Horner, however, insists that the departure is not likely to be imminent.
“McLaren have lost significant technical staff over the last few years, and it is only natural that they are looking to recruit,” he acknowledged, “[Prodromou] has not left; he has a contract with us until the end of 2014, so he still has one more year to go with the team.
“He is a valued member of the team but, if any member decides that they don't want to be with the team any more, we're not forcing anybody against their will at the end of their contract. But as I said, there is still some time to go on Peter's contract...”
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