Marko: Continuity is important thus Ricciardo’s deal is for at least three years

Daniel Ricciardo with Helmut Marko

Daniel Ricciardo with Helmut Marko

The current Formula 1 silly season has taken a big step towards sanity, as Red Bull finally confirmed Daniel Ricciardo will replace Australian countryman Mark Webber in 2014 and beyond.

Austrian media reports said the 24-year-old has inked a minimally three-year deal.

“Continuity is important to us,” Helmut Marko said on Red Bull-owned Austrian television Servus TV. “The contract is therefore for at least three years, as Daniel was not only the youngest candidate but also the one with the most potential.”

Champions Kimi Raikkonen and perhaps even Fernando Alonso were reportedly considered for the plum seat alongside Sebastian Vettel, but team boss Christian Horner said the Red Bull-groomed Ricciardo was ultimately a “very logical choice”.

Daniel Ricciardo is a graduate of the Red Bull junior programme and is shown here winning Formula Renault at Monaco in 2011

Daniel Ricciardo is a graduate of the Red Bull junior programme and is shown here winning Formula Renault at Monaco in 2011

“We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level,” admitted designer Adrian Newey.

“Or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they’ll develop to a very high level.”

He said the decision was similar to Williams‘ deliberations at the end of 1992, when the new champion Nigel Mansell departed.

“We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time,” said Newey. “I think it’s good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance.”

On the other hand, Red Bull’s decision might be interpreted as a nod to Vettel’s increasing influence at the team, as he looks set to win a fourth consecutive world championship this year.

Indeed, the German newspapers Welt and Bild both described Ricciardo as a “nobody”.

Daniel Ricciardo made his F1 debut in 2011 with HRT funded by Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo made his F1 debut in 2011 with HRT funded by Red Bull

And Marko admitted Vettel had a say, “It is a team decision, so of course Sebastian was asked for his opinion.”

The timing of Tuesday’s announcement was also odd, according to the Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary.

He said it came “in the middle of football’s transfer deadline frenzy”, and also with many of the sport’s top journalists at the London premiere of the new Formula 1 film Rush.

“Perhaps Red Bull did not want the publicity,” said Cary. “The Austrian-backed team have been criticised in some quarters for being too conservative with their choice.”

Red Bull, however, insist Ricciardo is not a ‘number 2′, and that he will enjoy equal status and machinery alongside Vettel.

Mark Webber with  Daniel Ricciardo

Mark Webber with Daniel Ricciardo

But Helmut Marko also acknowledged that, coming to the champion team from Red Bull’s midfield runner Toro Rosso, Ricciardo will take some time – “three to five races” – to steadily adjust and get up to full speed.

For Ricciardo, the news finally becoming official was a big relief.

“It was a bit of a wait,” he grinned on Servus TV. “I’ve made sure I had my phone with me all the time!”

Marko insisted Ricciardo’s current teammate, the similarly Red Bull-groomed Jean-Eric Vergne, had also been in the running.

“When they knew Mark Webber was leaving us, both of them upped their game,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there can only be one. But Jean-Eric will have another opportunity next year at Toro Rosso. He is also slightly younger — he just needs to have patience,” added Marko. (GMM)

  • Boycottthebull

    Continuity is important? Well so is harmony and a non divisive team environment. Two things the loud Mouthed Marko seem totally incapable of. He slags off is own team drivers when his favourite finger boy is in the wrong. I Pity Daniel R. He will never get the full support of the team and he will NOT be given equal equipment. Webber never was and neither with Daniel R. One reasons I have banned Red Bull from my home is the thought that a single cent of my money would be paid to this clown Marko. Bild magazine never gets a single thing right, if it thinks Ricciardo is a nobody it should go to some actual F1 races its it presumes to report on the sport. What is is with Austrians? Marko is arrogant, the magazine just as ridiculous. Niki Lauda always shooting is mouth off with crap. Certain puts me off Austria and the thought of them getting a Grand Prix again is just plain disturbing.

  • Ploops

    Red Bull didn’t have the balls to sign Kimi as Marko’s baby Vettel would have been beaten. But Ricciardo will shine and he will get an offer in 3 years time from Ferrari and leave Red Bullshit. Just like Webber who took $10m a year and now is the golden boy of Porsche who make Red Bull look like a tiny company.

  • LotusFan

    @Boycottthebull +1000 U said it all

  • Ukwhite

    @Boycottthebull: Mate, that is wrong, sorry to say that. Just accept the things the way they are and enjoy the life.