Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has confirmed there are three drivers in contention to replace the out-going Mark Webber next season.
Webber announced his plans to step away from Formula 1 at the end of the season yesterday – much to the surprise of Horner who was told of his decision just before it was made public.
Now the reigning Constructors’ Champions must face up to the task of finding a replacement for the Australian.
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen has been touted as Sebastian Vettel’s potential new team-mate for next season, as have Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, both of whom drive for Red Bull’s sister team, Torro Rosso.
"We want the fastest line-up that we can and Kimi's obviously an attractive option," Horner told Sky Sports after Firday’s first practice session at the British Grand Prix.
"The youngsters [Ricciardo and Vergne] are attractive as well. We want to take our time and evaluate the options available to us, but the reality is that it's probably between those three."
Horner was a little less forthcoming when discussing the prospect of replacing Webber with Force India driver Paul di Resta, who has built upon his successful maiden season in Formula 1 with a string of impressive performances this time round.
"Obviously you've got to look at everything and everyone who's available," he said. "I'm not sure what Paul's situation is, but as I say, our focus will primarily be on those three guys."
Raikkonen appears to be the front runner as it stands – the Finn only has one year left on his contract with Lotus and admitted he had already held ‘small talks’ with Red Bull over the vacant seat next year.
While the 2007 World Champion may be keen on a move, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier says there are plenty of reasons why he should stay put.
Asked what he had done to convince him to stay, Boullier said: "I think we did it over the last two years. He just needed a little bit of reassurance about what the plans are for the future because we are in some ways a new team, at least new ownership, and so far we have respected our ambition and our plan.
"So just [it's about] sitting around the table. I know Red Bull is pushing hard to get him on board but I'm not sure this is very comfortable and maybe not as logical for Kimi to go there."
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