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Räikkönen and Ricciardo Are Front Runners for Open Red Bull Seat

Ricciardo Red Bull testing

Daniel Ricciardo, after testing for Red Bull at Silverstone. Photo courtesy of the Red Bull Racing Twitter page

As the second day of young driver testing at Silverstone Circuit concluded, Daniel Ricciardo of Scuderia Toro Rosso found himself topping the leaderboard against test drivers from every other team (save Mercedes), as well as Williams’ Pastor Maldonado. Things are looking good for Ricciardo, who is currently one of the front runners for the Red Bull seat vacated by Mark Webber for the 2014 season; 2007 World Champion and current Lotus star Kimi Räikkönen is rumored to be the only other name in the running. Both are competing to be the number two spot to reigning champ Sebastian Vettel for the team that has clinched the Constructors’ Championship for the last three years. Humorously, Ricciardo set the best lap time with his current car, rather than the Red Bull RB9 that he also piloted.

Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Éric Vergne is no longer being considered for the team, according to team principal Christian Horner. STR is one of two teams racing for the energy drink giant, with Red Bull Racing being the dominant of the two; as such, many consider STR to be the feeder team for Red Bull. After all, Vettel began his meteoric rise in F1 following his move to that team from BMW Sauber.

Ricciardo would be a safer choice by far than the outspoken Finn from Lotus. While a substantially better driver than Ricciardo, Räikkönen could pose a serious threat to Vettel. Räikkönen’s incredible talent combined with his famously aloof personality makes him an incredible driver but not a fantastic teammate. If this year’s Malaysian GP featured Vettel and Räikkönen, it wouldn’t be blasphemous to suggest that the race could have ended for Red Bull with both teammates crashing while jockeying for front position. Räikkönen would undoubtedly keep Red Bull in first place in the Constructors’ but could spell doom for Vettel, who already is facing stiff competition from Räikkönen this season.

The 2014 season is still six months away, so Red Bull has plenty of time to weigh their options. Given Vettel’s substantial influence in the team, it would be in his best interest to move Ricciardo up to Red Bull rather than move Räikkönen over and further threaten his chances at a 2014 championship.

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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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