Red Bull Racing surprised the Formula 1 world on Tuesday when they announced that they would be using current Toro Rosso wheel man Daniel Ricciardo at the Young Driver Test.
Ricciardo and his team mate Jean-Eric Vergne were two of the three drivers that RBR Team Principal Christian Horner named as possible replacements for the departing Mark Webber. By selecting Ricciardo for the test at Silverstone it appears that Red Bull favors him over Vergne, and it could even mean that the team has learned that they won’t be acquiring their number one target Kimi Raikkonen.
While it is doubtful that a firm decision has been reached by Raikkonen as to if he will join Red Bull or stay with Lotus F1 Team for the 2014 season, it is possible that RBR is getting signals from the Iceman indicating he will be staying at Lotus. It is also possible that Red Bull still doesn’t know anything about Kimi’s decision and that they are simply preparing their back-up plan should the Finn not answer their call. Using Ricciardo could indicate much or little about what Red Bull will do for 2014, but I’d venture to say that Lotus fans should feel a little better about Kimi staying with his current team.
Ricciardo will run the first day of testing for Red Bull with Webber running day two. Sebastian Vettel will be in the cockpit of the RB9 on the final day during which he will test the newest Pirelli tire compound. The three-time constructor’s champion has also announced that they will give drive time to Red Bull Junior Team drivers Antonio Felix da Costa and Carlos Sainz Junior. Da Costa will be in the cockpit during the morning on the first two days with Sainz taking the morning session on the final day.
The F1 world will still have to wait and see who Red Bull’s next race driver will be, but by testing Ricciardo it looks like they might be swapping one Aussie for another.