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5:53PM Wednesday May 02, 2012
Replacement talk: Mark Webber. Photo: Getty Images
FORMULA one star Mark Webber has firmed as a potential replacement for the struggling Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2013.
Webber, who has floated on and off Ferrari's radar over the years, will replace Massa in a one-year deal, according to a Spanish report.
The Australian seven-times grand prix winner is out of contract at Red Bull next year but wants to remain in a competitive team.
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Red Bull is keen to promote either Webber's compatriot Daniel Ricciardo or Ricciardo's Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.
The young guns are in a shoot-out for Webber's seat but Red Bull could face a dilemma if the veteran outpoints world champion Sebastian Vettel through the season. Rumours about Massa's departure from Ferrari have been persistent over the past 18 months and Webber has entered the picture, according to Spain's El Confidencial, because of his ''great relationship'' with their lead driver Fernando Alonso.
In the long term, it is widely believed Ferrari will sign young Mexican sensation Sergio Perez, who has performed brilliantly for the Ferrari-engined Sauber team this year. But it is understood they want Perez to have at least another year's experience before stepping up, increasing the chances of Webber being signed as a stop-gap driver.
Meanwhile, after an unpredictable start to the season, with four different winners from the four races staged, Red Bull is expecting the trend to continue.
Team principal Christian Horner does not see Vettel's win over Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus in Bahrain last month as a resurgence of the dominance that gave Red Bull the past two formula one titles.
''I think this season is going to ebb and flow,'' Horner said. ''It is going to be about being consistent in races you can't win and taking the maximum out of them. And in the races that you can win, you need to deliver.''