Hispania Racing has confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo will joins the team’s racing line-up at next weekend’s British Grand Prix, with Narain Karthikeyan making way for the Australian, who turns 22 today.
The Perth-born driver will make his Formula 1 race debut after a series of outings in Friday practice as Toro Rosso’s reserve driver. He has also been dovetailing this with a second season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, after finishing runner-up in the championship last year.
“It’s a dream come true for me – for the first time on an F1 starting grid!” Ricciardo is quoted as saying in an HRT press release.
“I had to pinch myself a couple of times to be sure that it’s real. I’m excited and can hardly wait to drive at Silverstone. It’s a new challenge, a new experience, a new team, but I’m ready and will give of my best in any event.”
It is understood that the deal is a ‘loan’ arrangement with Red Bull, which will see Ricciardo drive for the Spanish outfit at all remaining races except for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in October, where Karthikeyan will return to satisfy the locals.
What is extremely interesting is that Red Bull – operator of four cars on this year’s grid – has sourced a fifth in which to blood its latest protégé, which certainly means that there is an urgent need to get more F1 mileage for him.
We have reported that there has been plenty of speculation that either one of the Toro Rosso drivers, Jaime Alguersuari or Sébastien Buemi, could be shuffled aside to make way for Ricciardo, but with Alguersuari coming on strong and both equal on points it makes the decision much tougher.
If Red Bull was going to drop either of the Toro Rosso youngsters, one could argue that it would have done so already. Perhaps Ricciardo is heading elsewhere in 2012, and could that ‘elsewhere’ be the senior Red Bull Racing outfit instead?
[Image via Sutton Images]