Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s driver manager and consultant, has said that a 2012 F1 contract will probably be Mark Webber’s last.
The Austrian is known to be closer to fellow German-speaker Sebastian Vettel’s side of the garage, and he stunned F1’s Australian contingent on Sunday by effectively announcing 34-year-old Webber’s impending retirement.
Marko told broadcaster One’s coverage of the Hungarian Grand Prix that Webber is “probably going to retire” next year.
He said Red Bull therefore “would need to find one of our juniors who can replace Mark Webber”.
Ironically, a leading candidate is Webber’s countryman Daniel Ricciardo, who has been slotted in at HRT alongside Italian veteran Vitantonio Liuzzi.
“First of all, he has to beat his teammate, and he has to progress,” said Marko.
“He (Ricciardo) is losing too much in the pitstops, and losing too much when he is being lapped so he must get the feeling. And we want him to fight with the people who are around him.”