They say a week is a long time in politics, and the same - with a couple of tweaks to the wording - may be said for F1 when it comes to 'silly season' perceptions.

Although the annual driver merry-go-round is still in understated early-season mode, the space of three race weekends has seen the jostling to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull take another turn.

While Kimi Raikkonen is still believed to hold the trump card when it comes to potentially partnering Sebastian Vettel at the world champions from 2014, the two Red Bull 'juniors' vying for the chance to step up from a holding pattern at Toro Rosso continue to stake their claim with a series of points finishes.

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Following the Spanish Grand Prix in early May, Daniel Ricciardo was viewed as the more likely to replace his countryman, having taken a decent grid position and points from Barcelona. Since then, however, the Australian fears that team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne may have moved ahead of him in the pecking order, following back-to-back top ten results in Monaco and Montreal, while Ricciardo posted a DNF and a 15th-place finish respectively.

"Like any racing driver, I'm very highly motivated to compete with my team-mate, so having such a poor race when 'Jev' had an excellent one adds to the frustration," the 23-year old conceded.

Knowing that this year could be crucial to his chances of landing a top-line seat in F1, Ricciardo's concern may be well-founded in light of recent comments from Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, who appeared enthused by Vergne's recent run.

"Jean-Eric impressed with his performance in Monaco and, in Montreal, he was even better," Marko noted in an interview with RMC after the Frenchman racked up Toro Rosso's best finish since Vettel won at Monza in 2009,

"It was not just a good race, he was very quick all weekend. In qualifying, he made no mistakes in the rain and, during the race, I saw him fight with talented drivers. This is only his second year in F1 and, for the second year, it's really impressive. While we are looking for drivers who can win grands prix, for the moment, he is on the right track."

Despite taking encouragement from STR's general upturn in performance, Ricciardo said that his results were not for lack of effort.

"It's very frustrating because these last two races are probably my two favourite tracks on the calendar and they've turned out badly," he sighed, "I tend to stay at the track late, early in the weekend, trying to understand everything so I can pull the most out of it. That makes it more frustrating when it doesn't work out like you expected."

One man not likely to be adding to the Australian's headache is current Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi, who appears content to continue in that role for another year.

"As Red Bull's third driver, I'm interesting to the smaller teams, but that would have to make sense," he told Swiss website, "I'd prefer to stay here rather than finish 18th. Clearly [I'm keen to return to F1] - 100 per cent, but the goal is also to race, so it's a very good compromise with Toyota: I can race and stay [in F1] with Red Bull."

Buemi believes that an extension to his contract is 'looking good', but has called on the team to give him more seat time from 2014.

Of course, the whole, who will replace Webber' question could yet be rendered moot should the Australian decide to remain as Vettel's team-mate into 2014. Although he has been heavily linked with a possible move to Porsche's LMP programme, Webber has apparently opened talks with RBR, as he does at this time every year.....