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Relationship didn't cause Webber exit - Vettel

ESPN Staff
June 27, 2013 « Horner unhappy at late notice from Webber | Red Bull to run da Costa and Sainz Jr »
Sebastian Vettel will have a new team-mate at Red Bull next season © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel says he doesn't believe his relationship with Mark Webber had any impact on his team-mate's decision to leave Formula One.

Webber will join Porsche for its return to the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship next year, bringing to an end a 12-year career in F1. Webber and Vettel have had a fractious relationship which appeared to break down after the team orders furore in Malaysia, but asked if he felt it had played a part in Webber's decision, Vettel replied: "I don't really think that way.

"As I've said I have enormous respect for him on the track as a driver; I think off the track a lot of it has been hyped more than it should have because there hasn't really been that much going on. If you look at other team pairings I think there's worse couples than us in terms of mutual respect, so I don't think I have been in a bad position or he has been in a bad position.

"Obviously he's quite a bit older than me and it's a different generation you could argue so as a fact we're not best friends and probably never will be. It was reason enough for you to get excited about it in the past but it's not a reason for us to try to change at all costs."

Vettel also said that he felt Webber's move was a good one to take at this stage.

"I think one thing that we all have in common here is that we love racing - all the drivers - and surely at some stage you will reach a point where you might have had enough of Formula One, you might look for a new challenge, try to do something different. Obviously Mark decided with Le Mans together with Porsche for the future which I think is an interesting project. There's a lot of money involved in the last couple of years which raises the bar for everybody and the cars I think are quite powerful and technically on a very high level so I think it's a good alternative to Formula One."

Kimi Raikkonen has been linked with a move to replace Webber and while Vettel said he felt the two would get on well he added that he doesn't really care who his team-mate is.

"I don't know his situation in Lotus but I think we get along well with each other. Obviously we've never been team-mates and surely I'm not deciding whether he will join the team or not … but I think it's always difficult to know how a relationship is going to be. On the other hand it doesn't really matter who is your team-mate; when you want to win you have to beat the best and whether you have them in your own team or in another team shouldn't really matter."