Belgian GP: Red Bull door surprisingly reopens for Kimi Raikkonen

Team principal says nothing should be ruled out in search for new driver

Spa-Francorchamps

As practice got under way for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix yesterday, Red Bull intriguingly left the door open for Kimi Raikkonen to join the team next season despite the Finn’s manager saying earlier this week that after talks between the two parties a deal could not be done.

Red Bull’s search for a driver to replace the retiring Mark Webber and partner world champion Sebastian Vettel has sparked a whirl of speculation, including the more fanciful idea that Fernando Alonso might even go there.

However, yesterday the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, stirred things up further by suggesting that the Finn, currently with Lotus, was still on Red Bull’s radar for 2014 despite comments by the former world champion’s manager, Steve Robertson, that “Kimi will not be driving for Red Bull in 2014. We held some talks but a deal will not be happening.”

However, Horner was not so certain. “I wouldn’t rule anything out at the moment,” he said. “Nothing is fixed. We said we would take the summer to mull things over, but there is no commitment yet. We haven’t made any commitment to our second seat. Kimi is very much his own man and I am sure that he will do what is best for him. It’s up to him. We want to make the right decision and we will take the appropriate time to make that decision.”

This could be why the Milton Keynes outfit are not, as some had expected, this weekend confirming Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull’s B team Toro Rosso as Webber’s replacement.

Indeed, Horner appeared to distance himself from Ricciardo when he added: “Daniel has done a very good job in the test he has done for us, and the recent races he has done for Toro Rosso. But that doesn’t mean it is a foregone conclusion.”

After yesterday’s morning practice had been rendered academic when the track refused to dry fully following a pre-session shower, Webber set the pace on both the hard and medium compound Pirelli tyres before Vettel beat his time of 1min 49.390sec by a mere 0.059sec. That left them eight-tenths of a second ahead of Lotus’s Romain Grosjean.

Vettel’s running was interrupted when his right rear Pirelli tyre punctured, and Alonso later said his Ferrari had also suffered a blowout. Since the Silverstone fiasco, Pirelli had mandated strict camber-angle and tyre-pressure settings, and banned teams from running uni-directional tyres the wrong way round to diminish wear.

That worked in Germany and Hungary, but yesterday’s incidents inevitably reraised questions because Vettel’s failure came at the end of a long run. “We don’t know what happened,” Vettel said. “We lost the rear right very suddenly, so we need to have a look. Pirelli are working on finding out why it happened.”

Lewis Hamilton finished only 12th, struggling for grip, when Mercedes had expected to challenge the Red Bulls following his success in Hungary. “I’m struggling,” he admitted. “The car doesn’t feel as good as it did in the last race, with lower down-force levels here, but I’m still hopeful. I don’t think the car is bad, I just think we need to refine the set-up. The Red Bulls are obviously very quick, but I don’t think they’re unbeatable.”

Jenson Button was disappointed with 15th as team-mate Sergio Perez got more from his improved McLaren to set the eighth-fastest time. Button is still awaiting confirmation from McLaren that they will take up their option on him for 2014. “I think I have a contract for next year, but I don’t think it has a signature on it yet, though,” he said. “I really want to be here next year, because we’ll be a much stronger team then.”

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
peopleSir Patrick took a more understated approach to the challenge
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
scienceTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Arts and Entertainment
tvWe have created an infogaphic that looks back over the previous incarnations of the Doctor
Sport
Olivier Giroud celebrates after his late goal saved Arsenal a point at Goodison Park
football Giroud rescues a point for Arsenal after they trailed by two goals
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
i100
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
people
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
i100
Extras
indybest

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition