Red Bull team figures were out in force on Wednesday, playing down links with Kimi Raikkonen and suggesting Mark Webber will be staying in 2012.
It has been reported that the energy drink owned team had targeted world rally and NASCAR driver Raikkonen, F1’s 2007 world champion and a former race winner for McLaren and Ferrari, for next year after Australian Webber openly ignored team orders during the British grand prix on Sunday.
But team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is quoted by the German news agency SID: “There is still no doubt about Mark’s contract extension.
“He feels comfortable with us and within the team is very popular,” he told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.
“He can not get a better car, and we can not get a better driver from the market,” added Mateschitz.
Team boss Christian Horner was reportedly furious with Webber’s insubordination at Silverstone, but Mateschitz seems less bothered.
“I understand that he wanted to come further forward; he would be a bad racer if he did not try,” said the billionaire.
As for the Raikkonen rumours, Mateschitz’s F1 right-hand man Dr Helmut Marko told TZ: “Kimi Raikkonen is not and will not be an issue for us. He definitely will not drive at Red Bull.
“These rumours are far-fetched and total nonsense,” added the Austrian.
Marko added that when Red Bull is ready to replace Webber, it will be with a driver from the company’s own talent pool.