Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hinted that Daniel Ricciardo’s test this week is an audition for 2014, as the world champions look to replace the departing Mark Webber.
The news is a blow for Ricciardo’s 23-year-old Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, who earlier was also considered in the running for the top seat alongside Sebastian Vettel.
Unlike Ricciardo, Frenchman Vergne has not been called up to test the championship-leading RB9 at the Silverstone test.
“We’re very keen to have a look at Daniel as a prospect for next year,” Horner told British broadcaster Sky on Wednesday. “It’s a great opportunity for him.”
Horner also confirmed that 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is in the running for the seat.
Asked if it is now a two-horse race between the Finn, who currently drives for Lotus, and Ricciardo, Horner admitted: “Essentially, probably.”
Ricciardo made his Formula 1 track debut when he tested for Red Bull Racing at the Young Drivers Test at Circuito de Jerez over three days in early December 2009. On the final day of testing he clocked the fastest time of the test by over a second.
Ricciardo made his grand prix debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix with HRT and completed the second half of the year with the now defunct team. Red Bull picked up the tab for the Australian.
In 2012 he was promoted to the Toro Rosso team and as of now has started 40 grands prix. With Webber vacating his seat at the world champion team, Ricciardo become a candidate. His cause has been helped by a series of strong showings in recent races.(GMM-Apex)