Momentum has increased in recent days over Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo’s chances of taking the hotly contested, vacant seat at Red Bull. With an announcement regarding the team’s decision expected at either this weekend’s Belgian, or the later Italian Grands Prix, all eyes have been on both Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen of the Lotus F1 team. The latter has been heavily linked to the Infinity Red Bull Racing seat alongside Sebastian Vettel since the announcement was made in April that the seat would be available at the end of the season.
German publication Sport Bild has reported that Red Bull owner Helmut Marko has refused to deny that Ricciardo will join the team, further fueling the fire in Ricciardo’s favor. Additionally, news broke this morning that Raikkonen’s manager has ended talks with Red Bull concerning the vacant seat, thus opening the door for Ricciardo.
Much of the driver market for the rest of the field hinges on the Red Bull decision. With Raikkonen also linked to a potentially vacant seat at Scuderia Ferrari next season, a decision in Ricciardo’s favor would dramatically alter the face of the 2014 season. Raikkonen looks set to stay away from Red Bull, but Lotus and Ferrari are still said to be valid options for the Finn.
Ferrari’s decision over Felipe Massa, who has been underperforming this season as well as the past three others, will have a substantial impact on the current silly season. If the Brazilian is indeed dropped for next season, at least three drivers are known to be under consideration as his replacement. Potential candidates for the seat are Nico Hulkenberg of the Sauber F1 team and Jules Bianchi (a driver part of Ferrari’s young driver academy) of the Marussia F1 team, as well as the aforementioned Raikkonen.
For the time being, however, all eyes will be on Red Bull and Ricciardo as we await what could be the biggest announcement of the entire season.