Kimi Raikkonen was never an option for Red Bull Racing, team principal Christian Horner has claimed, as the outfit closes in on a fresh deal with Mark Webber.
As F1's driver market looks like remaining fairly static for 2011, with Ferrari claiming it is now likely to stick with Felipe Massa for another year and Robert Kubica therefore probably staying put at Renault, Red Bull Racing is ready to hand Webber a fresh contract, too.
That decision on Webber, which comes after brilliant back-to-back victories for the Australian in Spain and Monaco, means that Raikkonen's only realistic chance of an F1 return with Red Bull Racing has been closed off. Despite intense speculation over the winter that Red Bull Racing could hand Raikkonen the chance for an F1 return, Horner said in Turkey that his outfit never considered the Finn.
When asked, in the wake of progress on Webber's contract, whether Raikkonen ever had been an option for the team, Horner said: "No. Kimi has committed himself to rallying, and he seems to be enjoying that environment. We have been happy with the job that Mark is doing, so why would you change?"
Horner said that with Webber doing so well this season, there was absolutely no reason for Red Bull Racing to look elsewhere – and the only matter that now needed sorting out was actually putting a contract to paper.
"When we sit down and talk about it, it will be very straightforward," said Horner. "Mark is an important member of the team, he enjoys driving for the team and we have a great balance between our two drivers. So, it is the usual thing – if it is not broken, don't fix it.
"I think that it is clear where our intent is, it is clear where his intent is. It is just a matter of sorting out the paperwork with his management, but in the coming weeks I am sure that will be sorted."
Horner also insisted that there was no issue between the team and Webber over the length of any contract, with Red Bull Racing wanting to stick to only a one-year deal.
"None at all," he explained. "I think that Mark is not your normal guy. I think he wants to be in a situation where he can be competitive, and he is not looking to string out his career beyond where he believes he has the desire and competition.
"Obviously when a driver is approaching their mid-30s, it makes sense to take things one year at a time. He is certainly more than comfortable with that, as are we."