"I think [Vergne] deserves a seat in F1 and should he not be successful with the Red Bull seat then it would make logical sense for him to continue at Toro Rosso," said Horner. "I think at this stage it's probably too early for him, which is why we chose to look at Daniel."
Ricciardo was surprised to learn that he was now effectively in the final two: "Christian said that? He didn't tell me. That means that my chances are 50-50? Do you have a coin?" he laughed.
"It would mean that I am a bit closer to what I want, so let's see," he added. "I still need to have a good weekend. Of course, though, the fewer candidates the better for me."
Asked what he thought would be the biggest difference if he did get the nod to take over from Webber at Red Bull, Ricciardo said that it wasn't the obvious factors of the difference in the hardware and team resources.
"You will be surprised: not the car as you might have guessed," he said. "[It was] the moment I came back to the Energy Station after a day's work to do my media work. Boy, I have never seen so many journalists waiting for me and hanging on my lips for every single word I say. That had really a 'wow' effect!"
Whether he gets the nod this time round or not, the 24-year-old from Perth in Australia probably needs to get used to his new status, because getting down to the last two in line for the best car in the paddock means his star is firmly on the rise and things will never be quite the same for him again after this.
In the meantime the down-to-earth Aussie is taking things in his stride.
"I am happy with where I am and with half the season left I have plenty on my plate," he said. "I think that it doesn't really make a difference for me. I think it is the media that gets giddy with excitement."