Ricciardo to replace Karthikeyan at HRT

UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Before HRT could release an official statement, Daniel Ricciardo confirmed reports he will be making his formula one race debut next Sunday.

It is now widely reported that the Australian, who turns 22 on Friday, will replace Spanish team Hispania's Indian regular Narain Karthikeyan from Silverstone.

"It's pretty, pretty exciting," he told the Herald Sun newspaper at Heathrow airport, where he was departing for Budapest for his next Formula Renault 3.5 race.

"It's awesome, just awesome," added Ricciardo, the Red Bull-backed youngster who in 2011 has been the Friday driver at the energy drink company's junior Toro Rosso team.

The Herald Sun said Ricciardo is being loaned by Red Bull to HRT.

"To make the first one at Silverstone, it's great," Ricciardo said. "It's a circuit I know well and it's just up the road from my second home in Britain."

06/30/11 (GMM) HRT on Thursday would not confirm reports Daniel Ricciardo is poised to join the Spanish team's race lineup.

Australian media reports and also German sources earlier reported that Red Bull-backed rookie Ricciardo, 21, will replace Indian regular Narain Karthikeyan from the British grand prix next weekend.

"Ricciardo is Toro Rosso's third driver," a spokesman for the Hispania team told us on Thursday. "If we have something to say, we'll release an official statement."

Daniel Ricciardo

06/30/11 (GMM) Daniel Ricciardo is poised to make his formula one race debut at Silverstone next weekend.

Australian media reports say the 21-year-old, backed strongly by Red Bull and until now the Friday driver at Toro Rosso, will replace HRT regular Narain Karthikeyan at Silverstone.

The Spanish team has been contacted for comment.

Ricciardo, who turns 22 on Friday, had been widely tipped to debut at junior team Toro Rosso this season but both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi have performed strongly enough to keep their race seats so far.

Just days ago, Red Bull driver manager Helmut Marko hinted that Ricciardo is close to joining the grid.

"In the simulator and in practice, his results are very good, but we need to see what he can do in the race," said the Austrian.

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