Reports have tonight emerged suggesting that Daniel Ricciardo has won the race for the seat at Red Bull Racing next season, with the world champions set to confirm the Australian driver next weekend at Spa.
Following Mark Webber’s decision to retire from Formula One at the end of the current season, the second seat alongside Sebastian Vettel has been one of the most hotly-disputed topics in the sport for the past two months. Red Bull initially shortlisted Ricciardo along with his Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Éric Vergne and Kimi Räikkönen of Lotus, but Vergne was soon ruled out of the race.
Ricciardo took another step towards the seat after he tested the Red Bull RB9 car at Silverstone during the young driver test, setting a highly competitive time compared to that of current world champion Vettel, although a mistake did raise a few question marks. However, it appears that a run of good qualifying performances has done enough for Ricciardo to secure the second seat at Red Bull, according to German publication Sport Bild.
The publication reports that Helmut Marko has refused to deny that Ricciardo will be joining the team, as well as marking the Spa weekend as the date after which more information will be known.
This would however simplify the driver market greatly for next season. Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost stated earlier this week that Antonio Felix da Costa was the prime candidate for Ricciardo’s seat if he were to walk away, seeing the World Series by Renault driver step up in 2014.
Further to that, any other changes would come as a result of Ferrari’s decision over Felipe Massa. If the Italian team did drop the Brazilian, this could cause a domino effect as both Nico Hulkenberg and even Kimi Raikkonen have been linked to the team, with Sport Bild’s suggestion that such a move is more likely also inferring that the Finn could be keen on leaving Lotus for next season.
All eyes will now be on Red Bull and Ricciardo at Spa to see if an announcement is indeed made.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.