AUSTRALIAN RISING STAR Daniel Ricciardo may be rewarded for his performances in the British Formula 3 championship with an end of season Formula 1 test, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
A member of the Red Bull young driver program, Ricciardo lead the F3 title race by 45 points from Austrian Walter Grubmuller with only four races remaining, placing him in a prime position to become the first Australian in 20 years to win the prestigious championship.
A renowned Formula 1 feeder series, former World Champions Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark and Mika Hakkinen are among a plethora of drivers to have progressed from the British Formula 3 championship.
Previous graduates to have featured on the Formula 1 grid this year include Rubens Barrichello, Nelson Piquet Jr and last year?s winner, Jaime Alguersuari.
And it is fellow Red Bull athlete Alguersuari who provides the greatest indication of Ricciardo?s future career progression, after the Spaniard replaced Sebastien Bourdais at Toro Rosso this season.
Alguersuari won five races on route to claiming the 2008 British F3 crown, a number equalled by Ricciardo this season, before moving into the World Series by Renualt.
Although it seems unlikely Ricciardo will make the switch to Formula 1 next year, with Kiwi Brendon Hartley believed to be higher in the Red Bull hierachy at this stage, Horner has been enthused by his progress.
Horner told Motorsport News: "Dan is clearly doing a very good job in F3 and he's done very well in the (F1) simulator work that he's done with us already.
"We'll keep an eye on how he does for the rest of the season and maybe give him a run out on a young driver day."
Winning the British F3 championship will automatically earn Ricciardo an FIA super license, the mandatory accreditation required to compete in Formula 1, allowing him to overcome a potential future career hurdle.
The importance of securing a super license is highlighted by the saga which dogged former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen in his early career when he was almost denied the opportunity to make his F1 debut in 2001.
Teams threatened to appeal the FIA?s decision to hand the Finn a racing license despite never winning one of the sport?s elite junior open-wheel categories, claiming he was too inexperienced to compete in Formula 1.
However, driving a Sauber, Raikkonen proceeded to stun the motorsport world with a sixth place finish on debut in Melbourne, demonstrating his potential as a future star of the sport.