Mark Webber has been warned by Dr Helmut Marko, a leading figure at Infiniti Red Bull Racing, that he is in danger of losing his seat unless he proves himself to be a team player.
According to Marko, Webber was not “optimally cooperative in Brazil” at a time that his team mate Sebastian Vettel aimed to, and ultimately achieved, an historic third Championship win.
Worthy of note is Webber’s contract. Despite seven years of loyalty to the team, the Australian is stuck on a one year contract.
Perhaps this is a personal choice? Webber is 37 this year, practically ancient by Formula 1’s youthful standards. After all, he has himself admitted that he is casting doubts over his future. Choosing the right time to retire is an art in itself – ask Rubens Barrichello. Leaving of your own accord is better than being ousted by a younger, fresher model.
This is the danger facing Mark Webber. Dr Marko has earmarked Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo as potential replacements. Nico Hulkenberg may be a possibility if these drivers fail to step up. Watch out to for Antonio Felix da Costa too – not for 2014 but as a potential Vettel replacement should he switch allegiance to Ferrari.
As if losing three World Championships to a team mate with a similar car isn’t hard enough, Webber has a real fight on his hands to secure his future. Red Bull want the best and, if the ousting of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari shows anything, it’s that the team has a ruthless streak.
And with last year’s title fight pushing the team to the wire, preparations for the 2013 car have been delayed. Only a successful year will do.
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