F1: Webber Re-Signs at Red Bull for 2011


What Happens When Things Aren’t Subtle At All

8:05am EST — Red Bull announced Monday that Mark Webber has extended his contract with the team for another year.  The press release not so subtly leans on the idea of goodwill within the team and excitement for the continued partnership, as contract announcements usually do, but is a further indication of the team’s need to show a united front after the bad press it received for their response to the incident between Sebastian Vettel and Webber at the Turkish Grand Prix. Red Bull was, as usual, short and to the point,

Red Bull Racing is pleased to announce that Mark Webber’s contract has been extended, meaning the Australian will continue to drive for the team in 2011. As Sebastian Vettel is already contracted to the team for next year, this announcement confirms Red Bull Racing’s 2011 driver line-up.
Mark Webber said: “It was an easy decision to remain with Red Bull Racing. We began talking very early this year and were in a position to sign by the Barcelona Grand Prix. The decision to extend for a further year was a mutual one; it’s widely know that I’m not interested in hanging around in Formula One just for the sake of it and at this stage of my career, I’m happy to take one year at a time.
I continue to feel very comfortable here – I have a fantastic relationship with the whole team and the factory at Milton Keynes feels like home. It’s been incredible to be part of the team as it’s moved forward from a mid-field competitor to one that is challenging for the Championship. I hope we experience more success together in the future and achieve our ultimate goal of winning the World Championship.
Our team principal Christian Horner added: The decision to retain Mark was very straightforward. He is an important member of our team and is currently in the best form of his career, as the current leader of the Drivers’ Championship. The team is extremely happy that the driver pairing of Mark and Sebastian will remain unchanged for a third season in 2011.

While the team had indicated that they had “drawn a line” under the incident and response and everything is hunky-dory within Red Bull, the contract announcement has one very important fact.  Webber and Red Bull “began talking very early this year and were in a position to sign by the Barcelona Grand Prix.”  While the announcement is a not so subtle note that the team and driver are getting along so well that Webber signed on to drive for them another year, in fact he had signed a month ago and at least three weeks before the incident and public speculation.  Obviously, F1 contracts can be the most flimsy pieces of paper ever printed upon, but one does have to wonder if Webber still would have signed after the Istanbul incident or if his terms would have been better or worse from the team so quick to throw him under a bus in their initial reaction.

In any case, this signature brings an end to one of the earlier bits of silly season speculation.  As the team put it on their Twitter feed, “Mark Webber has signed up to drive for Red Bull Racing for 2011, people. We keep our line-up for next season. See, that’s GOOD news. And for those who weren’t paying complete attention last year, Seb is already confirmed for 2011.”  So, that’s no more Vettel to Ferrari or McLaren speculation for the moment, then.

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