Mike Stevens | Oct 21, 2009

RED BULL RACING has confirmed it will retain Mark Webber for next season after rumours emerged linking Kimi Raikkonen with the Australian’s seat at the team.

With Raikkonen suitors McLaren and Toyota reportedly baulking at the Finn’s astronomical pay demands, Red Bull emerged as potential contender to snare the former World Champion.

Red Bull was believed to be considering pitching for Raikkonen as a result of the team’s frustration with Webber’s continued loyalty to disgraced former Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore.

However, team boss Christian Horner has moved to quash the speculation, denying Red Bull was interested and confirming Webber will remain with the team next season.

“That's a rumour that does not exist within our team,” he said. "We all know where we stand with Mark next year, and he does too.

“He's a great team player, we're very happy with his performance, so there is no doubt that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will be our race drivers next year.”

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Webber’s storming victory in Brazil was largely overlooked in the aftermath of Jenson Button’s championship triumph, but Horner said Red Bull hadn’t ignored the 33-year-old’s stellar display despite the disappointment of Vettel missing out on the driver’s crown.

He said: “A great race, unfortunately the championship came to a close, but Mark drove a sensational race - he was totally dominant. I was really pleased with his performance.”

As McLaren and Ferrari are expected to re-emerge next season as the dominant forces in Formula 1, it has been suggested Red Bull and Brawn GP may struggle to remain in the championship fight.

But with Adrian Newey in charge of development, Horner believes Red Bull is capable of remaining at the front of the pack.

“I don't see any reason why we won't be able to build on the continuity and success that we have enjoyed this year, but for sure we have got some formidable opponents,” he said.

“We must remember that we are still an independent team and I think the team can be very proud of what it has achieved this year. As I said, we will only get stronger as a group going into next year.”

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