Sebastian Vettel gives his full approval for Kimi Raikkonen to replace Mark Webber as his team-mate at Red Bull

 

Sebastian Vettel has made it clear that he would accept Kimi Raikkonen as his team-mate at Red Bull next season instead of Mark Webber. Though he made a light-hearted response to the inquiry – "I think nobody could have a problem with Kimi as team-mate, except for [Sergio] Perez" – his humour masked the deteriorating relationship with the Australian driver after five years in the same team.

Webber has refused to be bowed despite Vettel gaining the majority of the glory. But they fell out spectacularly in Turkey in 2010 and again in Malaysia this year, and now rumour suggests that as Webber is finally ready to walk away, the team owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, wants the 2007 world champion, who made such a brilliant comeback last season, as his replacement.

"I could try and have a word, but it's not my decision," Vettel insisted when it was suggested he might stipulate the choice of partner in a team that is known to dance to his tune. "I've been racing with Mark now for a long time, five years. We've done pretty well, so it's always difficult to imagine what happens if things change."

Then he gave his clearest indication yet that the increasing likelihood of winning a fourth consecutive championship this year might prompt a change of team-mate. "In the end of the day you want to challenge yourself. I want to be sat on the grid, nervous, excited to start, to find out who is the best on that day. In a way you hate it because you don't know what's going to happen, but in a way you love it as well because that is the challenge you face. It's the same in any sport.

"Wimbledon's just started. If you could just put the easiest player with one of the favourites in all the rounds and then an easy player in the final, it's not the same Wimbledon crown as playing five hours in the final, five sets, against the world No 1. And therefore I wouldn't mind who comes in. I respect all the drivers, and I certainly respect Kimi. I get along quite well with him. He doesn't talk a lot, but it's the same for all of us!"

So would he be pleased to see the back of Webber? "I'm not really keen on rolling up what happened in Malaysia. I respected Mark a lot before that and I still respect him. On a personal level I think there is a lot of hype produced just because neither of us has problems speaking out that we get along but that surely we are not best friends. What people make of that is 'a horrible relationship, disaster for the team'. But we never had a fight and we have never screamed at each other. We always treat each other with respect.

"Certainly it's not easy to beat him. And much as I respect Fernando [Alonso] and Lewis [Hamilton] I can only judge them from far away because they are with different teams. I can judge Mark much better because I know what he's doing. I know his strengths and weaknesses, he knows mine. And, yeah, certainly he's not easy. I think he is very quick. He has certain very, very strong areas where I am struggling to match him and to beat him."

So would he be prepared to measure himself in the same car against Raikkonen, arguably the best out there together with Hamilton and Alonso? "If you have the opinion you are the best and nobody is able to match you, that's the beginning of the end. I think there will always be someone, in some circumstances, who will be able to match you and beat you. And I'm not trying to find who is the ultimate best driver in Formula One history. I'm not really looking for an answer to that."

Just, perhaps, for a new challenge at Red Bull.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick