The F1 world is hanging on the protagonists’ every word, as Red Bull nears a decision about who will replace Mark Webber in 2014.
Rumours in the Hungaroring paddock swirled that a contract is being prepared with Daniel Ricciardo’s name on it, but the young Australian insisted: “I haven’t seen one!”
The time, however, is looming.
“Usually there’s two or three press guys turning up for my media sessions, today it was more like 20 or 30,” the Toro Rosso driver said in Hungary.
Their wait continues for now, but it will end soon.
In Budapest, the last race before a four-week break in the calendar, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner revealed: “We’ll take probably the summer break to reflect.
“Then it (the decision) is going to be Spa or Monza but it’s not going to be later than that I don’t think.”
Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne was once considered in the running for the plum seat next to Sebastian Vettel, but Horner admitted it is now definitely a two-horse race.
“I think at this stage it (a Red Bull seat) is probably too early for him (Vergne).
“I think he deserves a seat in formula one. Should he not be successful with the Red Bull seat then it makes logical sense for him to continue at Toro Rosso,” he added.
With that, then, Horner said Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen are “extremely good” candidates to succeed the Le Mans-bound Webber.
Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz said this week that Ricciardo, 23, did an “excellent” job in the Red Bull at the recent Silverstone test.
Horner agreed: “The test has strengthened his case.”
At the very same time, 2007 world champion Raikkonen hinted he might simply stay at Lotus next year — admitting that decision could attract some critics.
“Whatever the decision will be,” the Finn said in Budapest, “it might feel stupid to somebody else but then it might feel right for me.”
The 33-year-old, who drove for top teams McLaren and Ferrari in his pre-sabbatical career, also suggested the decision will be taken in the summer break.
“I haven’t made my decision,” Raikkonen told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper, “and I will not make it this weekend.”
© RIF | GMM