The F1 world got a surprise this week when Toro Rosso announced Daniil Kvyat, a Russian teenager, as Daniel Ricciardo's 2014 successor.
We reported on Monday that, although Antonio Felix da Costa has been the obvious favourite for the seat, fellow Red Bull junior Kvyat had jumped to the front of the queue thanks to 'a group of Russian sponsors'.
Italy's Italiaracing said one of them is SMP, a Russian group.
Earlier, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost had said Rome-based Kvyat, who is the first driver to leap straight to F1 from GP3, was too young for 2014.
"I think usually formula one drivers should be at least 20 or 21," he had said.
But now, Tost insists Kvyat is "very talented", having "impressed" the Faenza based team with his F1 test at Silverstone this year.
Portuguese da Costa, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter that Red Bull's decision "hurts", but insisted "it's not over".
The 22-year-old has also struggled at times in the Formula Renault 3.5 series this year, while Dr Helmut Marko insists Kvyat has flourished in his development.
Russian Kvyat remains in contention for this year's GP3 title, and Red Bull's Marko said on Austrian Servus TV he has also thrived in F3.
"Whatever we have put him in, he has performed right off the bat," Marko said late on Monday.
Marko denied that, unlike Sauber's Russian teen Sergey Sirotkin, the fact Russia will host its inaugural grand prix next year has had a direct influence on the choice.
"What he showed in the (F1) testing was remarkable," Marko insisted. "If a young driver shows the talent, the passion and a strong work ethic, we give him a chance."
And the correspondent for the German newspaper Bild, Frank Schneider, added: "It is quite possible Toro Rosso will also get a new sponsor or two."
Marko says Kvyat is 'no risk, no fun' choice
Dr Helmut Marko has characterised the promotion of Red Bull junior Daniil Kvyat for 2014 as a "no risk, no fun" strategy.
When asked on Tuesday about the 19-year-old Russian's leap straight from GP3 to Toro Rosso, McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said it was a "very big step".
McLaren is bringing new Formula Renault 3.5 champion Kevin Magnussen and runner-up Stoffel Vandoorne through the ranks, but Neale suggested the move to the new turbo V6 rules next year is a big enough challenge "without throwing a young driver into the mix".
"It has been done successfully historically by exceptional candidates," he told reporters during the Vodafone teleconference, "but formula one is a very high-pressure environment and very unforgiving."
Kvyat, believed to be bringing Russian sponsors to Toro Rosso, surprisingly beat the hot favourite Antonio Felix da Costa - who finished his 2013 season behind Magnussen and Vandoorne - to the seat being vacated by Daniel Ricciardo.
"I believe I am ready to step up," Portuguese da Costa said on Tuesday, "but the decision is made.
"It hurts, and today I am sad as are many others in Portugal, but I will keep working together with Red Bull to get into F1," he insisted.
Marko, who heads Red Bull's junior programme, defended the appointment of the three-years-younger Kvyat on the basis of his steady development throughout 2013, and his performance at Silverstone during the young driver test.
"So we wanted to take the risk and move a GP3 driver up to formula one," the Austrian told Germany's Auto Bild. "No risk, no fun!"
Marko said he sees Russian Kvyat as "a mix between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen", because he has "exceptional speed and is a meticulous worker, but also very quiet and with good nerves".
Earlier, it was suggested Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost considered Kvyat too young for F1, but he is now quoted as saying that out of the Russian, da Costa and Carlos Sainz Jr, Kvyat is "by far" the most ready for the 2014 seat.
Porsche denies latest F1 rumours
Porsche has denied the very latest suggestions it might be gearing up for a formula one foray.
Exactly a year ago, the Volkswagen-linked carmaker denied that its sports car programme - to feature Mark Webber at the wheel in 2014 - was a mere warmup to F1.
Alongside grand prix winner Webber, who has been poached directly from F1's world champion team, Porsche has also been busily signing up F1 personnel including Fritz Enzinger, Alex Hitzinger, Mike Krack and Urs Kuratle.
The Weissach facility has also been set up as a world-class motor sport factory complete with wind tunnel.
Now, the correspondent for Auto Motor und Sport, Tobias Gruner, suggests that Porsche has managed to attract those high-calibre personnel "on the prospect of a formula one comeback" in the near future.
Porsche has consistently denied the regular speculation. A spokesman said this week that the marque is "fully committed" to its 2014 Le Mans project, as well as GT racing.
"There are no plans to enter formula one," the spokesman added.
However, a subtle hint may have been dropped in the latest edition of Porsche's employee magazine.
In it, an article says that because F1 is returning to a turbo era from 2014, Porsche engineers got in contact with Hans Mezger, who developed McLaren's title-winning TAG-Porsche engines in the 80s.
"This (magazine) article was surprising, to say the least," said Gruner.
McLaren 'respects' Red Bull's refusal to release Prodromou
McLaren on Tuesday said it understands Red Bull's reluctance to release aerodynamics chief Peter Prodromou from his contract.
McLaren has already signed Prodromou, who works closely with Adrian Newey, but it is believed he remains under contract to Red Bull for at least one more year.
"I can't see any incentive for Red Bull to release him early," McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale told reporters during the Vodafone teleconference.
"We'd be happy if he was starting first thing tomorrow morning, but we do fully respect Red Bull's position as we do when we're recruiting anybody from another organisation," he added.
It is believed Prodromou's deputy has also been signed by McLaren, but he too could also be under contract for some time.
Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko was quoted as saying last week: "We'll see in a year where the two men are working."
2014 could be F1 prelude for Sainz jr - father
2014 could be the prelude to Carlos Sainz jr's formula one career.
That is the claim of the 19-year-old Spaniard's namesake and father, hot on the heels of news another Red Bull-backed teen, Russian Daniil Kvyat, has secured the second Toro Rosso seat for 2014.
Sainz jr was also in the running to succeed Daniel Ricciardo at the Red Bull-owned team, and might now be considered the frontrunner for a 2015 debut.
World rally legend Sainz admitted 2014 will be a "very important" season for his son's F1 aspirations.
Sainz said his son will surely complete a second season in the Formula Renault 3.5 series next year.
"This year has been a race to catch up experience," he said.
"He is only 19 years old, but if he is in the championship fight hopefully it will be the eve to formula one for him," added Sainz snr.
Asked if his son might combine his racing next year with a F1 test role, Sainz snr answered: "I know nothing of that.
But "It would be ideal," he is quoted by EFE news agency, "because it would mean he is getting the maximum possible experience in formula one. But I have no idea.
"I know that if something in the rules should be changed it is this, because three days a year for young drivers is nothing," Carlos Sainz snr insisted.
Capitalising on Qatar link 'my last big wish' - Williams
Reaping the fruits of the collaboration with Qatar is Sir Frank Wiliams' "last big wish", he admitted on Tuesday.
A couple of years ago, the British team partnered with the soverign Arab state to establish the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar, to develop and commercialise F1-bred technologies.
Williams, 71, is still the Grove based team's boss, but he has handed over many of his responsibilities to his new deputy Claire, his daughter.
But Frank Williams told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that he still deals primarily with the political side of F1, and liaising with the likes of the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.
And "My last big wish is to bring our partnership with Qatar to fruition," he said.
He likened the Qatar link to the late 70s, when Williams rose to the front of the grid powered by Arab-linked sponsors including Saudia, TAG and Albilad.
"I would like to do the same now with Qatar," said Williams. "I've been working on it for three years.
"From my experience with the Saudis," he added, "I know that patience plays an important role."
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