Red Bull boss Christian Horner has hinted that the team would like to tie up their younger charger, Sebastian Vettel, to a long-term deal that would extend past his current contract, which runs through the 2012 season. According to reports, Red Bull would like to tack an additional three years onto the deal, which would see the young German wearing Red Bull livery through the end of 2015.
This is a markedly different approach to the negotiations currently underway with Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber. It’s understood that the team intends to extend Webber’s current contract, which expires at the end of this season, in annual increments.
While this dual approach might seem to favor the German over hsi Aussie team mate, it makes perfect sense in terms of long term strategy. Clearly, Vettel is a talent Christian Horner would like to see tied to the team for several years running, much the way Ferrari had a lock on Michael Schumacher’s services for more than a decade. If Vettel’s commitment can be secured, it’s only logical that the team would prefer to allow themselves some flexibility with their second driver. Hiring Webber on a year-to-year basis would accomplish that.
It’s also true that Webber is about a decade older than Vettel, which means that in any given year he might be deemed past his ideal shelf date. Single year contracts would give both driver and team the option of calling it a day on relatively short notice.
That said, certainly both drivers would be keen to stay with the team as long as the Red Bulls remain competitive – and as long as the two drivers can avoid the kind of dust up they experienced at last week’s Turkish Grand Prix, which ended in a loss of a seemingly sure win for Webber, and a DNF for Vettel.
Red Bull’s pilots aren’t the only team members in contract negotiations this year. As icing on the cake, Adrian Newey, who was reaching the end of his current deal with Red Bull, has revised the terms of his current deal, leaving the term open-ended. Going forward, the Newey deal will roll from one year to the next, much like Webber’s. As Christian Horner recently told Autosport, “[Adrian] is enjoying what he is doing, he enjoys the environment at Red Bull and he is still relatively young. It is not like he is an old timer, so I don’t think he has any plans to retire at the moment. He will certainly be here for the foreseeable future.”