It now looks likely that Red Bull Racing is set to promote junior driver Daniel Ricciardo to the second seat alongside Sebastian Vettel next season, after Kimi Raikkonen’s manager confirmed that his driver is no longer in discussions with the Milton Keynes team.
As journalists scrambled after the weekend to try to stand up a story in Sport Bild Germany, suggesting the deal is done for Ricciardo, Steve Robertson told Autosport that his client was no longer in talks for the drive.
Ricciardo is the only other candidate.
“Kimi will not be driving for Red Bull in 2014. We held some talks, but a deal will not be happening,” said Robertson.
The Sport Bild story said that Ricciardo would be announced at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. The source of the story was believed to be Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, who is responsible for the young driver programme which has produced Ricciardo.
Red Bull have made no comment today and Ricciardo’s team has also said nothing.
If and when confirmed, the decision is something of a gamble by Red Bull. Ricciardo has scored 21 points from 41 Grands Prix and has to prove he can perform consistently at a high level.
With Mercedes in strong shape for the next few years both technically and with two well matched drivers, the pressure will be on Red Bull to retain its Constructors’ titles and thus on Ricciardo to hit the ground running.
When Vettel joined the team from Toro Rosso the bar was lower and he was able to rise with the team.
That said, Ricciardo has shown when the opportunity arises that he has scintillating single lap pace, so he should be able to start races from close to the front of the grid and strategy is more straight forward when you have a car with lots of pace, starting in the first couple of rows of the grid.