Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko could switch the driver agreement with HRT to the Lotus/Caterham team for 2012, according to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.
In the second half of this season, the energy drink company has paid for Daniel Ricciardo to make his grand prix debut with the Spanish team HRT. But the manager of the programme, Marko, revealed recently that he is not sure if the deal will be extended for 2012. It is believed Australian Ricciardo will be moved to Toro Rosso for 2012, probably to replace Sebastien Buemi.
The next Red Bull-backed hopeful is Jean-Eric Vergne, who is now tipped to step into the role occupied by Ricciardo this year. But, given HRT’s signing of Pedro de la Rosa and the fact the other seat will almost certainly go to the highest bidder, Frenchman Vergne is believed unlikely to succeed Ricciardo at the struggling Spanish team.
“Red Bull could park one of their juniors Ricciardo and Vergne at Lotus (Caterham),” said Auto Motor und Sport.
Officially, Caterham’s 2012 lineup is locked out, with Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen under contract. But less than two weeks ago, veteran Trulli’s manager Lucio Cavuto was moved to deny reports the Italian’s 2012 seat was in danger due to “Red Bull dollars”.
“One thing is clear,” said Auto Motor und Sport. “Red Bull will give the Frenchman a cockpit next year.”
Lotus/Caterham will use Red Bull’s gearbox, hydraulics and KERS systems in 2012.