With Mark Webber apparently ready to commit to Red Bull for 2012, team consultant Dr Helmut Marko has given the strongest sign yet that his successor will be another Australian.
Marko reinvigorated the speculation about Webber's future in Hungary by saying that the 34-year-old is likely to retire after racing one more season.
"Mark Webber will continue with us for another year, and then he will decide what to do in his career," the outspoken Austrian is quoted by Italian publications including Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport.
Marko reportedly added that "Red Bull will decide who takes his place, although it is likely it will be (Daniel) Ricciardo".
He is referring to the 22-year-old Australian who recently made his grand prix debut at HRT with Red Bull backing.
"I thank the guys at Red Bull for the nice words, but it's still too early to talk about the future," said Ricciardo.
"I hope there is a chance to race with them, but first I need to beat my teammate Liuzzi, who is a few tenths ahead of me."
As for Webber's 2012 deal, he said he is on the verge of making his decision.
"I'll decide about my future at Spa," said Webber, referring to the forthcoming Belgian Grand Prix.
Asked if it is his decision alone, Webber simply answered "yes", adding that the only thing he is weighing up is "purely my own motivation for racing".
And as for Ricciardo, Webber told Austria's laola1: "I think he has a great future ahead of him."
Red Bull's rivals to keep on improving - Brawn
After McLaren and Ferrari fielded cars with winning pace in July, Red Bull could be challenged even more once this month's summer break ends.
That is the view of Mercedes' Ross Brawn, who thinks the championship is likely to heat up at Spa-Francorchamps and beyond.
"It's impossible to predict what will happen from Spa," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo, "but I think that as we saw Ferrari and McLaren managing to make their cars faster over the last three races, they are likely to improve even more."
Renault's sporting director Steve Nielsen agreed: "Because Ferrari and McLaren are developing the aerodynamic exhaust later than Red Bull, they have more potential to improve it."
Toro Rosso's veteran technical chief Giorgio Ascanelli, however, disagrees, and HRT's Geoff Willis explains: "I know Adrian (Newey) well from Williams and how he works when the opposition gets tougher.
"I predict they (Red Bull) will come back to dominating the races, although not like early in the season because the competitors have come to understand some of their solutions."
While McLaren's drivers won the last two Grands Prix, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso would have won the championship by three points over Sebastian Vettel if the season consisted only of Valencia, Silverstone, the Nurburgring and Hungary.
Red Bull, meanwhile, might struggle on the high speed sections at Spa and then Monza.
"That's right, those two tracks are not exactly our best ones," Mark Webber told laola1.at in Austria this week.
"So we need to limit the damage and then attack again when we can," added the Australian.
Pirelli not bowing to pressure in tyre selection
Paul Hembery has played down any lingering suspicions that the teams can influence the selection of tyre compounds for Grands Prix.
Although Ferrari was disappointed with the selection of the hard tyre at Silverstone, Pirelli has selected softer compounds to take to all of the forthcoming Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix.
Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio said the selection is a "surprise" given the high speed nature of Spa and Monza. "It's good news for Ferrari," he added.
Asked however if Pirelli feels pressure from teams like Ferrari, motor sport director Hembery insisted: "No. I read what is in the press at the end of the work day, but nothing more than that.
"There are some compounds that suit some people better in general, in other cases it depends on the track or the weather. It's very difficult to generalise," he told Spanish sports newspaper AS.
As for Pirelli's contribution to the 'show' in 2011, Hembery said the fact there has been more overtaking this season is "70 per cent (due to) the tyres and 30pc the DRS".
He confirmed that the Italian tyre supplier accepted Bernie Ecclestone's challenge of deliberately producing heavily-degrading tyres for this year.
Told that F1 is the only corner of the tyre industry where high degradation is a positive, he laughed: "Very good!
"You could say that, but only to some extent. We need to tread carefully and show our tyres and contribute to the show, but not by taking too many (safety) risks."
Kubica crash dimmed Kovalainen's rally hobby
Heikki Kovalainen has admitted he is no longer so keen on rallying.
Before signing with Team Lotus last year after two seasons with McLaren, the Finn insisted he would "make sure that as well as formula one I am allowed to drive rallies".
The 29-year-old has contested several minor rallies in the past, but he told motorline.cc that F1 rival Robert Kubica's horror crash in February had dimmed his enthusiasm.
"I like to watch the rallies on TV," he said, "but right now I definitely don't have the time to pursue it actively myself.
"We all saw what happened to Robert, and for this reason the rally driving is not in my plans at the moment," added Kovalainen.
Pirelli calls off F1 test for Ken Block
Pirelli has called off Ken Block's test in the 2009 Toyota.
The 43-year-old American was scheduled to drive the car this week at Monza, as F1's official tyre supplier tests privately at the famous high-speed Italian Grand Prix venue.
Block, a world rally driver, is arguably most famous for his online gymkhana stunt videos, but his large size - 6 foot 2 and 84 kilograms - has proved problematic for the 2009 Toyota.
The car, designed originally for the diminutive Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock and tested this week by Lucas di Grassi, is too small to accomodate Block, Pirelli's motor sport director Paul Hembery said on Thursday.
"Ken is too big," said the Briton. "We are looking at running him in another car."
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