HRT will have to buy out the remainder of Vitantonio Liuzzi's contract if the Spanish team wants to replace him for 2012.
That is the claim of the Italian magazine Autosprint, after HRT announced that Pedro de la Rosa has been assigned one of the two race seats for next year.
It has been reported that several candidates are in the frame for the other seat, with HRT needing to sign a pay-driver because Spaniard de la Rosa does not come with lucrative backing.
Autosprint reports that the decision to sign de la Rosa was made by HRT's new Spanish management and had "nothing to do with (boss) Colin Kolles".
"Liuzzi has a three-year contract and a buyout clause in his favour," said the magazine. "If the team decides to let him walk, they must pay a large sum."
But if Liuzzi stays, then Daniel Ricciardo and the Red Bull dollars that come with him will go.
Australian Ricciardo could instead end up in Jarno Trulli's Lotus/Caterham seat , with Toro Rosso looking increasingly likely to keep both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi for 2012.
A few of us are not really sure what's happening next year
Italiaracing reports that Jean-Eric Vergne might therefore have to spend next season as Toro Rosso's Friday driver.
"A few of us are not really sure what's happening next year," Ricciardo said at Interlagos. "Hopefully I'll keep Dr (Helmut) Marko and the guys at Red Bull happy and see what opens up for next year."