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Ricciardo hopeful for 2012

NEWS STORY
25/10/2011

Mat Coch writes:

Just three races remain of Daniel Ricciardo's debut season, yet the Australian is still unsure as to what his future holds.

Having featured heavily as part of the Red Bull driver development programme during his formative years, the Austrian drinks company placed the 22-year-old with the beleaguered Hispania Racing Team from the British Grand Prix in place of Narain Karthikeyan. His progress to date has been steady - if unspectacular - leaving it unclear what the Australian will be doing in 2012.

"There's a lot of drivers still trying to step in from GP2 and there's a few test drivers in teams as well now with Formula One experience," he told The West Australian newspaper. "There's only limited space. I think obviously having Red Bull and hopefully impressing them enough this year, they'll continue and put me in somewhere."

In the lead up to this weekend's inaugural Indian Grand Prix it had been expected that Ricciardo would sit the event out in favour of local favourite Karthikeyan, however the team has instead decided otherwise. "For this single event, Narain will be driving alongside Daniel Ricciardo," said team boss Colin Kolles. "I have asked Tonio Liuzzi to step aside for the Indian GP in order to allow driving programs with Ricciardo and Karthikeyan to be completed."

It's believed that should Ricciardo impress sufficiently in 2011 he will join Toro Rosso next season alongside Sebastien Buemi. However, recently another Red Bull youngster has taken part in Friday practice sessions for the Red Bull feeder squad, with Jean-Eric Vergne named as another possible candidate for the Toro Rosso drive.

Out of contract with both Red Bull and Hispania at season's end, the Australian remains focussed on the job at hand. "I've got the next few races," he said. "For me it's important to stay focused on those and not watch what the other guys are doing.

"I'll be very disappointed if I don't have a place next year," he added, "but it's one of those things."

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