Daniel Ricciardo has admitted Red Bull may have closed the door on his promotion to its secondary team Toro Rosso for 2012.
Speculation throughout the year hinted that the Australian rookie, who mid-season stepped up with Red Bull backing to make his debut with the Spanish team HRT, would replace one of Toro Rosso's current drivers for 2012.
But, referring to Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, 22-year-old Ricciardo is quoted on Tuesday by the West Australian newspaper: "At the moment it seems like Toro Rosso are going to stay with who they've got.
"It wasn't put down 100 per cent, but it was the wording I was making out."
Ricciardo can at least smile at the news his Red Bull contract has been extended for another year, amid reports he might take the backing to Caterham to become Heikki Kovalainen's 2012 teammate.
"There's a good chance if I'm on the grid next year it's going to be with another non-Red Bull outfit," he admitted, "but I guess the good news is I'm still contracted by Red Bull.
"They've agreed to continue with me."
If Kovalainen was to be my teammate, it's someone very good to measure up to
The Caterham link follows rumours Italian veteran Jarno Trulli, despite his 2012 contract, could be ousted.
"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 said.
"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," he added.