RED BULL’S Mark Webber insists the team orders row involving colleague Sebastian Vettel earlier this year was not behind his decision to quit Formula One at the end of the season.
The Australian, who yesterday announced a deal to drive for Porsche in events such as the Le Mans 24-hour race, clashed with Vettel and team bosses following the Malaysian Grand Prix in March.
Webber warned he would consider his future after the spat, in which world champion Vettel ignored team orders and passed him to take the win, fuelling his suspicion that Red Bull chiefs favoured the German.
But, ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the 36-year-old denied the episode had prompted him to call time on F1, saying: “No, I’ve had a personal plan and I’ve stuck to it. This is the next chapter.”
Former champion Kimi Raikkonen, who has flourished at Lotus since returning to the sport last year, was quickly installed as the favourite to take Webber’s place at Red Bull next season.
Team chief Christian Horner admitted Raikkonen was “an option”, along with promoting a driver from feeder team Toro Rosso, but the Finn was more coy about the possible switch.
He said: “I haven’t made a decision for next year. I can do whatever I want because I don’t have a contract.”