Daniel Ricciardo on Thursday appeared to move another step closer to landing his dream seat at Red Bull Racing.
After the young Australian tested for the world champion team recently at Silverstone, reports indicated he had moved ahead of Kimi Raikkonen as the favourite to replace the Le Mans-bound Red Bull veteran Mark Webber in 2014.
When asked about next year's currently vacant race seat alongside Sebastian Vettel, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz clearly hinted Toro Rosso driver Ricciardo is at the front of the queue.
The Austrian billionaire did not even mention Finn Raikkonen, whose current team Lotus is pushing hard to convince the laid-back 2007 world champion to stay.
"No decision has been taken yet," Mateschitz is quoted as saying by the AFP, AAP and Sapa news agencies.
"It is still under discussion within the team but it will be announced after Budapest. Ricciardo did an excellent job at Silverstone and Jean-Eric Vergne was good too."
Vettel points gap 'a bit too much' - Alonso
Fernando Alonso has admitted he needs to start making up ground on runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
Having won two grands prix so far in 2013 compared to reigning triple world champion Vettel's four, Spaniard Alonso said Ferrari is working "day and night" to recover lost time in the car development race.
"We must try to finish ahead of Vettel," Ferrari's Alonso told Italian television TG1 ahead of this weekend's Hungarian grand prix.
The last race before the summer break and factory shutdowns, Budapest marks the exact half-way point of the 2013 championship.
German Vettel, driving for Red Bull, has a 34-point lead over Alonso with ten races to go.
Alonso admitted: "The gap to Vettel is beginning to be a bit too much in terms of points. We have to reduce this gap as soon as possible."
Having recently watered down his anti-Vettel rhetoric, Alonso this week insisted that the 26-year-old German has a clear car advantage again in 2013.
"Any driver who goes into the Red Bull manages to go very strongly," he said.
"We saw that in the tests for young drivers (at Silverstone)," Alonso added, referring to tests last week for Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz jr.
"Whoever goes into the Red Bull is very fast -- it is a fact that it is stronger than the others," said Alonso.
Red Bull on track for another title - Wolff
Mercedes' Toto Wolff has all but conceded the 2013 title.
The German squad is currently second only to Red Bull in the constructors' championship, while the highest-ranked silver clad driver is Lewis Hamilton, in fourth.
But new team co-owner and director Wolff told Austrian news agency APA that Red Bull is once again on a course for title glory.
"To their sporting achievements, you have to take your hat off," he said.
"They have been world champion three times, and it looks like it will be four now."
However, Mercedes is having by far its best season since taking over Brawn GP in 2009, despite the W04 struggling at times to manage the sensitive Pirelli tyres.
Wolff agreed that the Brackley based team is "above (the) expectations" of the winter.
But he also admitted there have been "problems", and they could bite with a fury in Budapest this weekend, where temperatures are set to soar into the high 30s C.
"The heat has done us no favours in the last few races," said Wolff, "but we need to solve it. We cannot just hope it's always 15 degrees."
Hulkenberg denies Hungary to be last Sauber drive
Nico Hulkenberg on Thursday rubbished rumours Hungary will be his last grand prix with Sauber.
The rumours said the German could be set to switch to another team, or simply sit out the rest of the 2013 season before making his next move, after not being paid in recent months.
The rumours said Hulkenberg's move could be good news for Sauber reserve Robin Frijns, who has just lost his GP2 drive due to a lack of sponsorship.
But Hulkenberg on Thursday said talk he is about to leave Sauber is "rubbish".
Asked in Hungary if he is staying put at the Swiss team for the rest of 2013, he told British broadcaster Sky: "Absolutely."
Beyond this year, however, Hulkenberg admitted the future is "open".
"My management and I are looking at all the possible options, including Sauber," he said.
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