Daniel Ricciardo says he is hopeful of remaining part of the F1 grid for the 2012 season, despite admitting that his hopes of a drive with Toro Rosso may have ended.
The Red Bull-backed Australian made his race debut this season with HRT having replaced Narain Karthikeyan from the British Grand Prix and was widely tipped to move over to Toro Rosso for the new campaign.
However, improved performances from both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi through the latter part of the season have increased the chances of the pair staying on for 2012 and Ricciardo admitted that his best chance of racing in F1 again next year now appeared to lie elsewhere.
"At the moment it seems like Toro Rosso are going to stay with who they've got," he told The West Australian
. "It wasn't put down 100 per cent, but it was the wording I was making out. There's a good chance if I'm on the grid next year it's going to be with another non-Red Bull outfit, but I guess the good news is I'm still contracted by Red Bull. They've agreed to continue with me."
One possible option for the youngster could be with Caterham, with rumours suggesting that Jarno Trulli's position isn't as secure as it would first have appeared; despite him appearing on the FIA entry list published last week.
"I would like to say there's a chance, but at least for me that's probably all it is for now, just a chance," Ricciardo admitted. "It would be a step up from this year, so it's not really a bad thing. I doubt they'll still be able to fight for points next year. They'll still be towards the further end, but I think they're progressing well.
"If Kovalainen was to be my teammate, it's someone very good to measure up to. He's won a grand prix before and he's smashed Trulli this year."