Christian Horner’s recent assertions in playing down suggestions that Lewis Hamilton is on the Red Bull shopping list as a possible successor to Mark Webber are predictably unconvincing.  “It’s difficult to see how you could have two drivers of Lewis’ and Seb’s (Vettel’s) calibre under one roof because there tends to be fireworks as we saw with Fernando(Alonso) and Lewis(at McLaren in 2007),” he told the Daily Telegraph last week. 

“Seb and Mark are at different stages of their career and they compliment each other.”

Well, yes and no. But the historical truth of the matter is that ever since Stirling Moss was selected to drive alongside Juan Manuel Fangio in the Mercedes F1 squad back in 1955, the burning ambition of every team manager worth his salt is to have two absolute top drivers paired together in his team – and prove to the world that he can manage them.

Think Jim Clark and Graham Hill at Lotus in 1967, Lauda/Prost and Prost/Senna at McLaren and, more recently, Woking’s line-up with Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Granted, you can’t make a very logical case for having two drivers of varying character and ability at different stages of their career, but I suspect that, given how they’ve conquered the world these last two seasons, Red Bull would like to raise their standards even higher in a post-Webber situation. Mark has done a brilliant job for them, better than many expected, but he too is honest enough to have admitted in the past that he’ll know when the time has come to quit and won’t hang around as an ‘also-ran’.

So Hamilton to join Vettel in 2013 in the Red Bull squad? I wouldn’t bet against it, but McLaren will be very persuasive indeed to head him off from such thoughts.  

Could be a very close run thing at the end of the day.