Daniel Ricciardo is “in the box seat” to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing, at least according to the Red Bull Racing driver, who announced his impending departure from Formula 1 on the eve of last weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Following Webber’s Thursday announcement that he would quit F1 to front Porsche’s LMP1-class return to the FIA World Endurance Championship, Ricciardo proceeded to star at Silverstone.
After posting the fastest overall time in a wet opening practice session on Friday, the Toro Rosso driver continued to run at the sharp end of the timesheets before qualifying an outstanding sixth-fastest on Saturday afternoon before finishing eighth in the race.
In a great weekend for the Australian duo, Webber came within a second of winning the race, staging a great fightback drive after a poor opening lap.
Speaking about his young compatriot after the race, Webber was once again full of praise for Perth-born Ricciardo, who celebrates his 24th birthday today.
“I think he’s in the box seat [to replace me]; he deserves it and he’s done the yards in Europe early doors. He’s been on the canvas a few times and got back up and that’s part of the rules.
“Daniel knows it will be a different challenge in a team like that, the pressure changes. Who knows what is going to happen, but we wish him all the best.”
After claiming his third points’ finish of the season, Ricciardo didn’t allow himself to get carried away with speculation linking him to the plum seat as Vettel’s teammate in 2014, arguing that he still had plenty more to do to impress the powers that be.
“As Mark said, let’s see what happens,” Ricciardo added.
“I’m not going to get my hopes up. I’ve still got to perform and produce what I’ve got to do and if it all works out then that will be exciting.”
Ricciardo’s teammate Jean-Éric Vergne and Lotus lead driver Kimi Räikkönen are also both in contention for the position of Vettel’s teammate next year, according with Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner.