So the worst kept secret in the history of Formula 1 was finally confirmed as Red Bull announced Daniel Ricciardo as the replacement for Mark Webber for 2014.
Despite the rather anti-climatic ending, I personally believe Red Bull came to the right decision and here's my reasons why.
For a team like Red Bull it was all about looking long-term, there was no point in choosing a driver that would have to replaced in two or three years regardless of his championship winning potential.
That point would have been true for Kimi Raikkonen, yes the Finn is probably faster than Ricciardo, yes he is probably more consistent than Ricciardo and yes he could probably win more races than the Aussie, but having Raikkonen at Red Bull would have been like having Elgar at an Eminem concert - it wouldn't have worked.
Daniel Ricciardo is that long-term investment for Red Bull much like Sebastian Vettel was back in 2009 and, just by looking at Red Bull's history, they don't do hire and fire very often. David Coulthard probably could have stayed longer until he retired after 2008, Webber himself is in his seventh season at the team.
To cap off that first point, Ricciardo is 24-years-old, at that age Red Bull probably still think he has a year of development in him as they probably did for Vettel back in 2009, but by using the retirement of Webber they can help Ricciardo into a more complete driver at the absolute highest level.
Many have said the appointment of Ricciardo is even better for Vettel than it is for Ricciardo, I disagree. Red Bull has the strictest young driver academy on the grid where the standards expected are so high.
For Red Bull to choose Daniel they clearly see enough potential to choose him over Raikkonen or other young exciting drivers like Nico Hulkenberg.
As I mentioned it may take a few races even a season for that potential to shine through, but Red Bull would not have chosen Ricciardo if they did not see a future world champion.
Given Vettel's success it could well be possible that the German could leave F1 at a much younger age than most, even if he just decided on a new adventure at a different team that would still leave Ricciardo in the position of having to lead a championship contending team.
Of course that is predicting and maybe way off the mark but for a team like Red Bull, who are looking at 2016 possibly further that possibility has to be taken into account.
Could Ricciardo do that? Not now of course but having that leader in Vettel next year will help Ricciardo improve so if the scenario ever occurs he would be ready to do so.
Another point is if Ricciardo had not have been picked, what would it have said for the young driver program at Red Bull? The company has many drivers racing in many series and to see the team they ultimately want to be driving for look past the program because neither of it's best two driver's were good enough would have been worrying.
Ferrari, I believe made this mistake with Sergio Perez. The Mexican was the cream of the young driver academy, putting in some superb performances, even beating Felipe Massa in a car seemingly less superior than the Ferrari and to not have the confidence, those showings would lead to a future drive for the Scuderia, in my opinion, lead to him joining McLaren.
Finally though and maybe most importantly, Ricciardo is a Red Bull man, he came through the system, he earned his opportunities and he can be a great ambassador for the company, much like Vettel.
He has that poster-boy look about him with a smile bigger than his homeland and for Red Bull the effect he has on the brand is probably just as important as the effect he has on the racetrack.
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