Mark Webber will leave Red Bull at the end of the 2013 season according to a report in major German newspaper Bild claiming they have information that the Australian will not get a new contract with the team.
But after the Australian driver hinted he might quit the team or Formula 1 in the wake of the team orders saga in Malaysia, Webber’s father Alan and partner and manager Ann Neal have confirmed the 36-year-old will be back at the wheel in China next month.
“There is no question whatsoever about Mark not continuing this season,” Neal told the Telegraph.
Beyond 2013, however, Webber’s future is much less clear.
Central to Webber’s management throughout his career, Flavio Briatore thinks the driver’s relationship with teammate Sebastian Vettel is now terminally broken.
Asked if one of them will leave Red Bull at the end of the season, the Italian told Rai radio: “For sure. I don’t think it can be fixed now.”
British journalist Bob Mackenzie agrees: “(Red Bull’s) next decision will be who will replace the Australian.”
Indeed, while Webber is this week surfing in his native Australia, Vettel on Tuesday was at work in the Red Bull simulator at Milton-Keynes.
McLaren’s Jenson Button – now the most experienced Formula 1 driver on the grid – agrees that the impact of the Sepang saga for Red Bull is “big”.
“Even if they sit down and discuss it, it is not going to change the outcome,” he is quoted by British newspapers. “What has happened is still in their minds. It does not go away.”
Spain’s El Mundo newspaper adds: “Vettel and Webber have never got along, but now a wide gap has opened up between them.”