Daniel Ricciardo has been linked with a move to what becomes Team Caterham for next year, with his Red Bull bosses aiming to see him continue racing in 2012.
As Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko weighs up what to do with the company's young drivers, one possibility being considered is for Ricciardo to switch to the squad presently known as Team Lotus if that team decides not to retain Jarno Trulli.
Although no final decision has been made, there is a growing likelihood that the energy drinks manufacturer could elect to keep both its Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari for another year, with Jean-Eric Vergne taking a reserve driver role at the Faenza-based squad. If that happens, it would mean another berth elsewhere would need to be found for Ricciardo, with it unlikely that he will continue his current HRT deal.
Marko, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner and Team Lotus/Caterham boss Tony Fernandes are understood to have held talks over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend to discuss the idea of Ricciardo being slotted into Trulli's current seat. Horner declined to expand on the Ricciardo situation when asked at Interlagos, but said that matters should move on swiftly over the next few weeks.
"Daniel has done a good job in the races he has had, so we will need to look at the opportunities and options that are available," he explained. "I am sure in the run-up to Christmas we will conclude what his program will be for next year."
Horner did make it clear, however, that he believed it vital that Ricciardo continued to gain race experience in 2012.
"He has learned in the races he has done, although obviously it is in difficult circumstances in a car that is a long way off the pace," Horner said. "But he has still been learning, he has been up against a competitive teammate and he has acquitted himself well. So it will be nice to see him in a grand prix team next year."
Trulli is under contract with Team Lotus for next season, but there has been ongoing speculation that the Italian may not continue with the team after the difficulties he has faced throughout 2012. Fernandes said on Sunday that there were currently no plans for the team not to have Trulli race next year.
"Right now we have a contract and he will race," he said. "There is no change in our driver lineup, and we have reported to the FIA both our drivers."
Earlier in the weekend Fernandes had also warned rival teams that he would not be entertaining any offers for Heikki Kovalainen, who is also under contract for 2012.