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Vettel confirmed at Red Bull for 2009

Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel will join Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing next year, the Milton Keynes-based team confirmed at Hockenheim on Thursday.

The German had been widely tipped for several months to make the step up from Red Bull's junior Scuderia Toro Rosso team after several impressive performances this year, even though formal discussions only started recently.

The way was finally left clear for him after David Coulthard announced at the British Grand Prix that he would be retiring, and Red Bull Racing wasted little time in deciding to confirm their 2009 driver line-up.

There had been some suggestions that the team could hold out for Fernando Alonso to make a decision about his own plans for next year, but amid mounting suggestions that the Spaniard is Ferrari-bound for 2010, there seemed little point in bringing the former world champion on board for just one year.

"We are delighted that Sebastian will be joining us next year," said team principal Christian Horner. "With David Coulthard announcing his retirement as a Formula One driver a fortnight ago at the British Grand Prix, after careful consideration, it seemed natural to announce his replacement here at Sebastian's home race in Hockenheim.

"As he was already part of the Red Bull family, choosing Sebastian as Mark Webber's team-mate was not a difficult decision. However, we have always stated that our aim is to have the strongest available driver line-up and Vettel's selection also matches these criteria.

"Having only turned 21 at the last race and with only 17 Grand Prix starts to his name, he is still on a learning curve, but it is clear that he has plenty of ability and speed. We are confident that Red Bull Racing will make the most of these attributes and believe that, in Mark and Sebastian, we have a very competitive driver line-up for 2009."

Vettel is in only his first full season of F1 but has already caught attention with several strong performances.

He made his debut for BMW Sauber at last year's United States Grand Prix, as temporary replacement for Robert Kubica, and joined his current Toro Rosso outfit a few races later in Hungary.

The German made headlines for all the wrong reasons in Fuji when he crashed into the back of Mark Webber behind the safety car in the wet, but bounced back with fourth place in the following race in China.

And despite a disastrous start to this year's campaign, when he retired on the opening lap in three of the first four races, he has put in several strong performances since to show a glimpse of his true potential.

"I am very proud to be joining Red Bull Racing and it's always good to have an early decision on what you are doing next year," Vettel said. "As a driver your target is always to be with the most competitive team possible and, over the past couple of years, Red Bull Racing has proved it has great potential, so this is a good move for me.

"I have been part of the Red Bull family for a long time and with its Junior Team since 2000. Throughout my career, they have offered me great support and now, to drive for their senior F1 team is a dream come true and I am looking forward to having a great season next year, even if I still have a lot to learn about F1.

"Apart from Red Bull, I must also say a big thank you to Scuderia Toro Rosso, where I feel very much at home. They have been my "family" for over a year and I would like to thank Franz (Tost) and Gerhard (Berger) for the opportunity they gave me and thank the entire team for all their efforts.

"Having got this announcement out of the way, I can concentrate on racing for Toro Rosso over the second half of the season. I will try and repay them by doing my very best to get some more good results, to add to those we have achieved so far."

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