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Alonso in the mix for Red Bull drive

ESPN Staff
July 29, 2013 « 'I felt like a target' - Button | Ferrari must understand new tyres - Domenicali »
Fernando Alonso has been linked to a Red Bull drive in 2014 © Sutton Images
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has refused to deny he is in talks to bring Fernando Alonso to his team next year to partner Sebastian Vettel.

Mark Webber will leave Formula One at the end of the year, leaving a vacant seat at the three-time world champions in 2014. Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo were thought to be the two strongest candidates, but over the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend Horner was seen in talks with Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad.

With Alonso contracted to Ferrari until 2016 it's possible Abad was talking to Horner about Red Bull young driver Carlos Sainz Jr, who he also represents. However, by Sunday evening the rumour in the paddock was that Alonso is being lined up as a potential replacement for Webber and when Horner was pushed on the issue he did not take the opportunity to deny it.

"Any conversation between any of the drivers or parties is going to remain confidential," he said. "But of course there are quite a lot of drivers who have expressed interest in the seat, as you can imagine."

He added: "I think we're in a fortunate position where we have quite a lot of interest in the seat next year. We were able to have a good look at Daniel [Ricciardo] last week [at the Silverstone test] and we'll take a bit of time over the summer to reflect on the options that are open us and look to put the right driver alongside Sebastian next year.

"The situation is that we want to run the strongest team. We're a team that has won the world championship for the last three years and we want to compete and fight for the world championship in future years. There has never been a pressure to run a junior driver it's a matter of fielding the best team at the end of the day. Of course the junior drivers are under consideration but there is not a prerequisite it has to be a junior driver."

Asked whether he thought a partnership of Alonso and Vettel would work, Horner said: "It would be interesting. I think at the end of the day you have to think about what's right for the team and the pairing that we want to put together next year has to be right for the team.

"Last week it was speculation about Kimi and now it's about Fernando. For us we want to make sure that nothing wavers in our mind about putting the right package together for next year. We need the two fastest drivers we can get that work collectively well together and secure the best results for the team."

However, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said Alonso's contract with the Scuderia is water tight.

"No, first of all we have a contract with him and for sure everyone knows about it. Fernando is an asset for the team and we need him to work very closely with everyone at this difficult moment of the season."