London, Sep 3: Red Bull Racing has said Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo will partner reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel in the 2014 Formula 1 season as part of a multi-year deal.
The announcement Monday night puts to rest speculation on Kimi Raikkonen joining the Milton Keynes outfit from Lotus.
Ricciardo will replace compatriot Mark Webber, who announced in June that he would leave F1 for sportscar racing, said a statement released by the team.
The 24-year-old from Perth has been with Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso since 2012 and is currently 14th in the drivers’ standings with 12 points from 11 races.
“Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and over time the belief in me has grown; I had some good results and Red Bull has decided that this is it, so it’s a good time,” said Ricciardo, who made his F1 debut with HRT in 2011.
“Next year, I’ll be with a championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I’m ready for that. I’m not here to run around in tenth place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team.
“It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel, I’m looking forward to that. My aim is to finish this season as strong as possible, for myself and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Then, once the off-season is here, I’ll be fully focussed on next year and the next stage of my career.”
Team principal Christian Horner said Ricciardo was the logical choice.
“He’s a very talented youngster, he’s committed, he’s got a great attitude and in the end it was a very logical choice for us to choose Daniel,” said Horner.
“He joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2008 and we’ve seen in his junior career in Formula 3 and Renault World Series that he’s capable of winning races and championships.
“He’s stood out in each of these categories and we’ve followed his progress with great interest. He’s got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he’s got a great natural ability, he’s a good personality and a great guy to work with.
Horner is confident that he Ricciardo will adjust quickly to the new job.
“Daniel knows what the team expects from him; he’ll learn quickly and it’s very much a medium to long term view that we’re taking in developing him. The seat within the team is a wonderful opportunity and I think he’s going to be a big star of the future.”