Ricciardo in, Karthikeyan out for HRT

HRT replace Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan with Australian Daniel Ricciardo for the upcoming Silverstone GP.

     Narain Karthikeyan has failed to win a point so far this season for the HRT F1 Team [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Formula One tail-enders Hispania (HRT) gave Australian Daniel Ricciardo a dream 22nd birthday present on Thursday by handing him a race debut at Silverstone in place of India's Narain Karthikeyan.

    The Spanish-based team said in a statement that Ricciardo, whose birthday is on Friday, was joining as an official driver in a collaboration deal with world champions Red Bull Racing.

    "Ricciardo...will finally see his dream come true and become a Formula One race-driver starting from next week's British Grand Prix," said HRT.

    The decision means Australia will have two drivers in next week's British Grand Prix with Ricciardo joining Red Bull's Mark Webber.

    "I had to pinch myself a couple of times to be sure that it's real. I'm excited and can hardly wait to drive at
    Silverstone. It's a new challenge, a new experience, a new team, but I'm ready and will give of my best in any event," Ricciardo said.

    While Australian Mark Webber - last year's winner at Silverstone - will be expecting to be in the running for a repeat victory with champions Red Bull, Ricciardo can hope only to get to the finish.

    Point to prove

    HRT have yet to score a point since their debut at the start of 2010. Karthikeyan, the only Indian to score a point in Formula 1, was making his comeback this season after racing for Jordan in 2005.

    A team source said the Indian was still expected to race for HRT in his inaugural home grand prix in New Delhi in October.

    Ricciardo has taken part in Friday practice for Toro Rosso this season and has been tipped to get a full race drive with that Red Bull-owned team next year.

    "I had to pinch myself a couple of times to be sure that it's real. I'm excited and can hardly wait to drive at Silverstone."

    Daniel Ricciardo

    "He should learn the team, all the race tracks, to work together with the engineers, get a little bit of knowledge about the press work, about the marketing and this should be the preparation for him to race for Toro Rosso in 2012," team principal Franz Tost said in May.

    The highly rated Australian was British Formula Three champion in 2009 and has impressed with his Friday performances.

    Many in the paddock had expected the Australian to replace Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso line-up before the end of the season but the Spaniard has scored eight points in his last two races.

    His team mate at HRT will be Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, who also raced previously for Toro Rosso and Red Bull and will provide a good benchmark to measure Ricciardo's talent.

    "I'm happy to welcome Daniel to the team. I'm glad the team managed to conclude this deal together with (Red Bull advisor) Dr. Helmut Marko who deserves my personal respect," said HRT principal Colin Kolles.

    It will be the second year in a row that HRT have rung the changes for Silverstone.

    Last year, the team drafted in Japan's Sakon Yamamoto in place of Brazilian Bruno Senna and made several further changes over the rest of the season.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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