A young, highly rated Brazilian driver has leapt to the front of the queue to become the next Toro Rosso driver.
It was thought that, should Daniel Ricciardo move to Red Bull’s premier team in 2014, the next energy drink-backed youngster in line was Antonio Felix da Costa.
But Michael Schmidt, the highly respected correspondent for Auto Motor und Sport magazine, says that the 21-year-old Portuguese is actually suffering a “dip in form” in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.
“Voices from Brazil say that GP2 star Felipe Nasr is knocking on the door at Toro Rosso with money from Banco do Brasil and Sky Brasil,” he said on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, amid the uncertainty about Felipe Massa’s career, Bernie Ecclestone ‘vowed’ to help Nasr’s burgeoning Formula 1 hopes.
“I need a Brazilian driver,” said the wily F1 chief executive.
If Massa does not have his Ferrari contract extended beyond 2013, he is being linked with a possible return to Sauber.
But O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio admitted this week: “If Ferrari does not extend his contract, I would be surprised if Felipe stays in F1.”
The highest-profile driver linked with Massa’s seat for 2014 is Kimi Raikkonen, but team boss Stefano Domenicali on Wednesday measured his words carefully.
“Kimi is a very fast driver and everybody knows how I rate him,” he told F1’s official website.
“But if I make a comment now it will be taken as a direct answer. As I said, there is no rush and we will make the right decision in the right moment.” (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.