HRT hopes driver deal with Red Bull ‘just the start’

Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 race debut is due to a “collaboration deal” with world champion team Red Bull Racing, the Spanish team HRT has revealed.

The Australian rookie, 22 on Friday, will switch from being Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso’s Friday driver to a full race cockpit at Silverstone next weekend.

It was believed that a Toro Rosso driver would be moved aside this mid-season for Ricciardo’s debut, but both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi have impressed sufficiently to stay with the Faenza based team for now.

Hispania is therefore Red Bull’s plan B.

“This agreement is a reward for all the hard work Hispania has shown since we started in formula one,” said team owner Jose Ramon Carabante.

“We’re proud that the formula one world champion team has trusted us in their effort of developing their drivers. Let’s hope that this is just the start of a fruitful relationship.”

It is believed that Narain Karthikeyan will sit out Silverstone, but HRT is yet to formally announce Ricciardo’s teammate for the British grand prix.

Indeed, the Spanish team said both Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi remain “official drivers” for 2011, with sources telling the media that Karthikeyan will be in the cockpit for the inaugural Indian grand prix in October.

Red Bull, meanwhile, confirmed that Ricciardo will split his new F1 racing duties with his season in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

But he will not be able to continue driving for Toro Rosso on Fridays, causing French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet to speculate that Red Bull’s next up-and-coming youngster Jean-Eric Vergne will take over that role.


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