BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen’s considerable wages will not be a factor in Red Bull’s decision on who partners Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel next season, team principal Christian Horner said on Thursday.
“Of course, finances are always a factor but...the difference between first and second or second and third and fourth is a significant amount in the constructors’ world championship,” he told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“So the financial element of it, if you don’t make the right decision, is going to impact you anyway if you are not scoring constructors’ points. So that isn’t really an element in our decision making.”
Horner told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix that a decision on who would replace the departing Mark Webber was likely to be made after the August break with the choice between Lotus driver Raikkonen and Toro Rosso’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
“There’s been some interesting applicants over the last few weeks but fundamentally we’re still looking at the same drivers,” he said.
Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, is one of the highest paid drivers in the paddock while Ricciardo - who flew to Budapest on a budget airline - is a product of the Red Bull young driver program and made his F1 race debut only in 2011.
Ricciardo tested for Red Bull at Silverstone last week and acquitted himself well but Red Bull are looking for a driver they can be sure will bring home solid championship points as the successor to Australian Webber.
“Daniel, what he has demonstrated so far, has been very positive,” said Horner.
“Kimi’s qualities speak for themselves,” added the principal. “He has a proven track record. You can’t question Kimi’s credentials.
“We want the two fastest and strongest drivers that we can put in the car for next year. I think both Daniel and Kimi would represent extremely good options.”
Horner said triple champion Vettel had not voiced any preference either way.
Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, Ricciardo’s team mate, had effectively been ruled out of the reckoning.
“I think at this stage it’s probably too early for him, which is why we chose to look at Daniel at the test at Silverstone,” said Horner.
“I think he (Vergne) deserves a seat in Formula One and should he not be successful with the Red Bull seat then it would make logical sense for him to continue at Toro Rosso.”
Editing by Clare Fallon