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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Sunday, 20 July 2008 11:29 UK

Vettel to join Webber at Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel
Vettel will find Webber a stern test at Red Bull next year

German rising star Sebastian Vettel is to drive for Red Bull Racing next year.

The 21-year-old, who is part of Red Bull's junior Toro Rosso team this season, will replace David Coulthard, who has announced his retirement.

Vettel, regarded as one of F1's most promising prospects, will partner Australian Mark Webber, whose contract was renewed two weeks ago.

Team boss Christian Horner said the pairing would give Red Bull "the strongest available driver line-up".

Horner said: "As he was already part of the Red Bull family, choosing Sebastian as Mark Webber's team-mate was not a difficult decision.

"However, we have always stated that our aim is to have the strongest available driver line-up and Vettel's selection also matches these criteria.

"Having only turned 21 at the last race and with only 17 Grand Prix starts to his name, he is still on a learning curve, but it is clear that he has plenty of ability and speed. .

add MissKarenL

"We are confident that Red Bull Racing will make the most of these attributes and believe that, in Mark and Sebastian, we have a very competitive driver line-up for 2009."

Horner added that the only driver the team would have considered instead of Vettel was double world champion Fernando Alonso.

But he said "the timing wasn't right for either Fernando or for us".

Alonso wanted only a one-year contract, Horner said, which Red Bull were not prepared to accept. It is widely believed that the Spaniard will go to Ferrari at the end of next season.

Vettel said: "I am very proud to be joining Red Bull Racing and it's always good to have an early decision on what you are doing next year.

"As a driver your target is always to be with the most competitive team possible and, over the past couple of years, Red Bull Racing has proved it has great potential, so this is a good move for me.

"I have been part of the Red Bull family for a long time and with its Junior Team since 2000.

"Throughout my career, they have offered me great support and now, to drive for their senior F1 team is a dream come true and I am looking forward to having a great season next year, even if I still have a lot to learn about F1."

The partnership of Webber and Vettel had been widely expected, and it will be eagerly anticipated.

Webber is arguably one of the most under-rated drivers in F1, and he has beaten all his team-mates, so he will be a stern test of Vettel's credentials.

Equally, the two have history. New recruit Vettel deprived Webber of a probable podium finish when he crashed into him during last year's wet Japanese Grand Prix.

Vettel became the youngest driver ever to race in a Grand Prix when he made his F1 debut for BMW Sauber at the 2007 US Grand Prix as a stand-in for the injured Robert Kubica.

He is also the youngest driver to score a point and to lead a race.

Just over a month after his debut, Vettel was drafted in to the Toro Rosso race team following the sacking of American Scott Speed, and he has raced for them ever since.

His best result was a fourth place finish in last year's Chinese Grand Prix.

see also
Mark Webber column
25 Mar 08 |  Formula One
British GP as it happened
06 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton cleared after Japan row
05 Oct 07 |  Formula One

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