While the usual Formula One 'silly season' speculation heads into the festive period in full force, one driver appears to be quietly edging closer to full-time graduation to the top flight almost undetected.
Portugal's Alvaro Parente is apparently emerging as the prime candidate to partner Bruno Senna at Campos Meta next season, despite the rumour mill suggesting GP2 Series rivals Vitaly Petrov and Pastor Maldonado are leading the charge to form part of the Spanish outfits debut line-up.
According to sources, Campos is growing tired of waiting for promised sponsorship deals attached to the named favourites to materialise and has extended its list of potential drivers to include Parente, who has shown his worth with titles in both British F3 and the World Series by Renault in recent years, before going on to take victories in GP2 with both Super Nova and the new Ocean Racing operation. The latter success, at Spa, saw the under-rated Portuguese defeat eventual series champion - and potential F1 rival - Nico Hulkenberg in a straight fight, despite the ORT machine not being as highly-rated as the German's ART entry.
Parente's bid to join Williams-bound Hulkenberg among the Cosworth ranks in 2010 has attracted backing from both the Portuguese government and businesses in his homeland, some of which also have interests in Spain. In addition, many of those companies are also active in the Brazilian market, and would benefit from Parente teaming up with fellow F1 rookie Senna.
Petrov and Maldonado have both long been connected to possible rides with Campos, the Russian primarily due to his erstwhile role as driver for the team - and its Barwa Addax successor - in GP2. Both are racewinners in the F1 feeder series, and are rumoured to have attracted backing from their respective homelands, but have yet to secure their place on the expanded grand prix grid for next season. Campos Meta appears to be the erratic Maldonado's only opening, while Petrov has been linked to at least one other newcomer to the field, as well as the returning Sauber outfit, and may yet find a berth should Parente snatch the second Campos seat.