Red Bull protege Daniel Ricciardo linked to 2012 Caterham Formula 1 seat
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, November 28th 2011, 10:34 GMT|
Daniel Ricciardo has been linked with a move to what becomes Team Caterham for next year, with his Red Bull chiefs keen to see him continue racing in 2012.
As Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko weighs up what to do with the company's young drivers, AUTOSPORT has learned that one possibility being considered is for Ricciardo to switch to the squad presently known as Team Lotus if the outfit decides not to retain Jarno Trulli.
Although no final decision has been made, there is a growing likelihood that the energy drinks manufacturer could elect to keep both its Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari for another year - with Jean-Eric Vergne taking a reserve driver role at the Faenza-based outfit.
If that happens, it would mean another berth elsewhere needing to be found for Ricciardo, with it unlikely that he will continue his current HRT deal.
Marko, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner and Team Lotus/Caterham boss Tony Fernandes are understood to have held talks over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend to discuss the idea of Ricciardo being slotted into Trulli's current seat.
Horner declined to expand on the Ricciardo situation when asked at Interlagos, but said that matters should move on swiftly over the next few weeks.
"Daniel has done a good job in the races he has had, so we will need to look at the opportunities and options that are available," he explained. "I am sure in the run-up to Christmas we will conclude what his programme will be for next year."
Horner did make it clear, however, that he believed it vital that Ricciardo continued to gain race experience in 2012.
"He has learned in the races he has done, although obviously it is in difficult circumstances in a car that is a long way off the pace," Horner said. "But he has still been learning, he has been up against a competitive team-mate and he has acquitted himself well. So it will be nice to see him in a grand prix team next year."
Trulli is under contract with Team Lotus for next season, but there has been ongoing speculation that the Italian may not continue with the outfit on the back of difficulties he has faced throughout 2011.
Fernandes said on Sunday that there were currently no plans for the team not to have Trulli race next year.
"Right now we have a contract and he will race," he said. "There is no change in our driver line-up, and we have reported to the FIA both our drivers."
Earlier in the weekend Fernandes had also warned rival teams that he would not be entertaining any offers for Heikki Kovalainen, who is also under contract for 2012.