Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mark Webber to Porsche, Raikkonen to Red Bull for 2014?

Could Webber be on his way out of RBR?
Few would be surprised after the infamous 'Multi 21' fiasco, but if paddock rumours are to be believed, Mark Webber has signed a five year contract with Porsche to be part of their Le Mans effort from 2014.

Webber has been linked with the Stuttgart marque's Le Mans return for some time but talk of a move has picked up considerably in recent weeks. He downplayed the speculation prior to the start of the 2013 F1 season but the latest comments have been neither confirmed or denied by the Australian.

Webber's last Le Mans foray ended badly
Should the gossip be true, 2014 will mark a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Mark Webber. The 36 year-old last competed at the fabled French event in 1999, an event remembered for the spectacular flips from Mercedes' CLR cars, of which Webber was victim twice.

Porsche's head of communication for motorsport, Oliver Hilger, recently fueled speculation by saying "He would have all the qualities to drive with us", he continued to say"He knows the road that leads to us in Stuttgart.".

Derek Bell, a four-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, three times with Porsche, was present at the opening round of the 2013 WEC season at Silverstone and when quizzed about the Webber situation, the Brit responded with "I hear he has gone".

Whether the speculation is true or not is yet to be seen, only time will tell. Regardless, the 2014 WEC season is already an exciting prospect with new regulations and Porsche joining Audi and Toyota in the LMP1 ranks. Jaguar are also expected to return with a new LMP1 car, although the British manufacturer has yet to officially confirm an interest.

UPDATE -  Following recent developments, Porsche's Wolfgang Hatz declared that Webber had not been signed for 2014 and insisted that he was 'not part of' the marques impending testing program. Clearly Webber cannot take part in anything with Porsche until his Red Bull contract expires, however, Hatz's comments do not deny that Porsche are interested in Webber's services, even if he isn't yet officially signed.

Raikkonen to Red Bull? 

Is Kimi Raikkonen about to Join Red Bull?
With Webber on his was out of Red Bull, another rumor circulating is that Kimi Raikkonen will take his place at the Austrian outfit.

It was apparently confirmed by various people in the paddock at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix that the 2007 World Champion has already signed for the reigning champions. This would end any hope of Red Bull juniors Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne, or in fact Red Bull reserve Sebastien Buemi graduating to the seat alongside Sebastian Vettel next season.

Raikkonen however is insistent that he has no plans currently in place for 2014. His current deal with the Genii owned Lotus team expires at the end of the current season. 

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