Daniel Ricciardo's seat at Red Bull is secure beyond 2014, team boss Christian Horner has confirmed.
Australian Ricciardo graduated this year from the energy drink company's second team Toro Rosso to replace his retiring countryman Mark Webber.
Team figures have said they were "surprised" by how quickly the 24-year-old settled in -- and how consistently quick he has proved alongside world champion Sebastian Vettel.
"Although Sebastian has had a lot of bad luck this year," said team owner Dietrich Mateschitz last week, "Daniel has surprised everyone by showing no weaknesses from day one.
"We were criticised when we gave Daniel this opportunity," he added, referring to Red Bull's deliberations last year over signing Kimi Raikkonen instead.
"But our decision was right," Mateschitz insisted.
As with all Red Bull-groomed athletes, Ricciardo has a long-term contract, but his place at the reigning world champion team also appears more than secure.
"I can't speak highly enough of what Dan has done in the first five races and managing this pairing is a walk in the park compared to previous years," team boss Christian Horner said.
"We've always believed in continuity and stability," he is quoted by the Daily Mail, "and Dan's on a long-term contract with the team.
"I think it would be highly unlikely he will be anywhere else next year," Horner added.
Fuel playing big role in new V6 era - report
Fuel has emerged with a big role to play in F1's new V6-powered era.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said struggling Renault took a 12 horse power step forward last time out in Barcelona, thanks entirely to a new blend of fuel supplied by French partner Total.
And Red Bull team boss Christian Horner sees more gains to come.
According to correspondent Schmidt, it was at Red Bull's considerable expense that the new Total fuel was brought in line with homologation so that it could debut in Spain.
"We're talking about 20 horse power," he said. "Mercedes has the advantage -- you can see it in comparison to their customer teams."
According to correspondent Michael Schmidt, Horner may be referring to McLaren, who power their Mercedes V6 with fuel supplied by team sponsor Mobil.
But it appears the other Mercedes teams - the works outfit as well as Force India and Williams - are all using the currently-superior in-house fuel developed by Mercedes' title sponsor Petronas.
Renault engine boss Rob White said: "With the turbo engines, the fuel suppliers started at zero, which is why we see these big leaps in performance at the beginning."
According to Italian reports, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has also recognised the importance of fuel in 2014, urging the Maranello team to move closer to its works supplier, Shell.
In Barcelona, only Red Bull got the 12 horse power-better new Total fuel, with Renault customers Lotus, Toro Rosso and Caterham having to wait until this weekend in Monaco.
Reigning world champions Red Bull have reportedly calculated the advantage of the Barcelona fuel versus the previous spec at three tenths on the straight.
Indeed, while Mercedes' Nico Rosberg got his W05 up to 334.5kph on the straight, Daniel Ricciardo was not far behind, at 328.8.
Horner said: "If we can reduce our engine deficit by 50 per cent, we can beat Mercedes."
Hamilton tries 'mind games' on teammates - Button
F1's dominant championship leader Lewis Hamilton will try to play "mind games", according to former teammate Jenson Button.
Amid the dominance of their Mercedes car, Briton Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, has beaten current teammate Nico Rosberg on the last four outings in Malaysia, Bahrain, China and Spain.
The major German newspaper Bild fears Rosberg is "too nice" to regain the upper hand now.
"Both are equally fast; equally good. But is Nico Rosberg too nice for the title?" wondered correspondent Helmut Uhl.
Indeed, Hamilton's previous teammate Button recalls that Hamilton reverted to "mind games" to gain the upper hand when they were paired at McLaren until 2012.
And with Mercedes now so dominant in 2014, "I am sure there will - if there aren't already - be mind games going on," Button said.
"There were a few things he played on me. It would work on some drivers, whereas others it just makes them stronger because they laugh it off.
"Nico is intelligent to know if Lewis is playing mind games or not, which in some ways could help Nico or harm him. He might just end up getting fed up with it."
At the end of the day, however, Button said form and confidence are the most important elements in a driver's armoury, and Hamilton is currently on top of his game.
"Lewis is full of confidence at the moment and he is a fierce competitor when he is like that, even when he is not having a good day," he told the Daily Mail.
But Button said that, given Mercedes' utter dominance this year, the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg will be an important factor in 2014 to keep interest levels high.
"The thing is, because they (Mercedes) are going to walk away with it - I know we are only five races in, but they have such a big lead - they're not going to favour just one driver," he said.
"They will let their drivers race because they need to keep the show going, and we need them to keep the show going and let both drivers race," Button added.
Tracks 'agreed' to push for louder F1 - Walker
F1 will continue to push for louder engines, according to disgruntled Australian grand prix chief Ron Walker.
Last week in Barcelona, Mercedes tried a trumpet-shaped exhaust attachment designed to turn up the volume of this year's turbo V6s.
The unanimous conclusion was that F1's first try at loudening the sport's aural spectacle did not work, and many were relieved that artificially tweaking the new and highly-sophisticated engines had not proved so simple.
F1, however, will not stop here, Walker insists.
In Barcelona, the Australian led a rare meeting of almost every single promoter on the entire F1 calendar, and "Everybody agreed", he has now told Fairfax Media.
Until now, the subjects discussed at the meeting had not been confirmed, but "We're all concerned about the noise level," Walker now reveals.
"We can't wait until next year," he insisted. "Something has to be done soon.
"Everybody agreed. We're all in the entertainment business. The people in the stands don't understand the new regulations. They want aggression, they want a gladiatorial contest," said Walker.
"My customers don't care about only using 100 kilograms of fuel in a race. Ticket sales are hard to get these days because the sports market is so competitive."
But according to quadruple world champion Alain Prost, the mixed messages coming out of formula one at the moment is a bigger problem for the sport.
Frenchman Prost is now involved in the brand new Formula E series, where the entirely battery-powered single seaters are almost completely silent.
Prost thinks F1's move to modern, hybrid engines is "fantastic", but the mixed messages are drowning out the good news.
"Right now the (F1) cars have the same power (as before) but are using 30 to 40 per cent less fuel, which is amazing, so big," he said.
"But the fans perhaps do not care too much, so there is a little bit of confusion and young people aren't following and aren't interested," Prost explained.
"With Formula E it is much more interesting, and with the organisers we are all in the same boat."
Montezemolo hints at F1 team budget boost
Luca di Montezemolo has hinted he will increase Ferrari's budget in order to catch up with dominant Mercedes.
The fabled Italian marque has struggled early this season, prompting the exit of team boss Stefano Domenicali.
But recent rumours suggest Ferrari is now prepared to 'break the bank' to woo F1's highest-paid engineer, Adrian Newey, to Maranello.
Ferrari can afford him. The Financial Times reports that the company recorded "record revenues, profits and cash flow" last year, with net profit up to EUR 246 million.
Montezemolo is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport as saying that while the exclusivity of Ferrari road cars remains a priority, that is a challenge "given heavy investment and F1, which requires an exceptional effort economically to recover the gap to the opposition".
Spain's El Mundo Deportivo reports that one Ferrari recruit is to be the retired 68-year-old Jean-Jacques His, an engine expert best known for leading Renault's technical efforts during the French manufacturer's dominant era.
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