Daniel Ricciardo has given the strongest possible hint that he would join Team Caterham for the 2012 Formula 1 season, with rumours doing the rounds that he will replace the out-of-sorts Jarno Trulli.
His comments, written in his regular column for Perth’s West Australian newspaper, also confirmed news that he had also re-signed with Red Bull as part of its driver development programme.
Speculation has been rife in recent months that the 22-year-old was a frontrunner to replace either Jaime Alguersuari or Sébastien Buemi at Toro Rosso next year, having driven impressively when he stepped up to the HRT F1 squad mid-season.
But it looks as though Toro Rosso’s line-up would remain unchanged, Ricciardo has confirmed.
“At the moment it seems like Toro Rosso are going to stay with who they’ve got,” he writes.
But the rookie driver gave every indication that he would be on the grid next year and, without dropping any names, his clues gave the strongest possible hint that it will be with the squad formerly known as Team Lotus, and as Trulli’s replacement.
“There’s a good chance if I’m on the grid next year it’s going to be with another non-Red Bull outfit,” he added.
“It would be a step up from this year, so it’s not really a bad thing.
“I doubt they’ll still be able to fight for points next year. They’ll still be towards the further end [of the grid], but I think they’re progressing well,” he continued, all but confirming that a Team Caterham drive was in the bag.
“If Kovalainen was to be my teammate, it’s someone very good to measure up to. He’s won a grand prix before and he’s smashed Trulli this year,” the Australian added.
Despite having been re-signed for the 2012 season in mid-2011, Trulli has hardly been noticed in his two years with Team Lotus.
A qualifying specialist, he has been thrashed by Kovalainen all season long, marking the Finn as the man to watch, while Trulli’s largely been F1’s forgotten man.
[Image via Motorsport]