Triple world champion Sebastian Vettel could soon have a new team-mate, as Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen is strongly linked with a move to Red Bull next year that puts Mark Webber's future with the team in serious doubt.
The relationship between Vettel and Webber has been hovering over tense grounds, especially since the German ignored team orders to deprive Webber victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Australian's one-year contract expires at the end of this season.
On the other hand, Raikkonen has been instrumental in turning Lotus's fortunes around this season. The 2007 world champion has been a success story since returning to Formula One with Lotus last year. After ending last season in the third position, he continues to hold onto that position so far this season as well with a string of good finishes.
Red Bull team prinicipal Christian Horner hasn't hidden his intereste in Raikonnen should he make himself available. "Kimi would have to be an option, if he were to be available. We're in a fortunate position that there are an awful lot of people who would like to drive a Red Bull racing car," Horner told the Guardian.
Horner dismissed speculations that relations between the Red Bull drivers have soured. "There is a professional relationship but there's nothing beyond that between them," he said. "They both know what they're employed by the team to do and there are no pretences."
When asked about his future in Formula One last month, Raikkonen admitted there could be a "few options" without naming Red Bull as one of them. "There's a long season to go and there's a long time until next year. I have no contract for next year. There is talk about this and that," he said. "In the end, I will make the decision at the right time. Things change quickly in Formula One. There might be a few options. I want to get the things right for me."