Daniel Ricciardo says the fates of past Red Bull proteges who have not lived up to expectations do not put any added pressure on him, as he is already extremely hard on himself.
Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are moving into the Toro Rosso race seats this season after predecessors Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari became the latest Red Bull young drivers dropped for not making the grade, as Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed had been before them. But asked if Red Bull and Toro Rosso's reputation for ruthlessness awed him, Ricciardo insisted it did not create any pressure that he would not have been putting on himself already.
"I feel pressure to deliver, yes, but it's not only pressure from Red Bull, it's pressure from myself. And not only this year, but since I joined with Red Bull four or five years ago," he said. "But even before that I put pressure on myself to try and get spotted by Red Bull. So I guess for my whole career. Basically every driver, to get to this level, has put pressure on themselves.
"Maybe there is some added pressure from Red Bull but if you want to be World Champion then you know you have got to perform, and the only reason they kick you out is if you are not performing and then you don't probably deserve to be World Champion. That's just the business we're in."
Having started 2011 racing in Formula Renault 3.5 while also being a Red Bull reserve, before adding an HRT F1 race deal from the British Grand Prix onward, Ricciardo said he was glad that Toro Rosso could be his sole focus this season.
"Since Christmas I have been able to prioritize this and only this," he said. "And particularly last year was pretty intense when I was juggling Toro Rosso, World Series and then HRT. And there was a lot of traveling involved, so...
"This year I will definitely be better prepared and devote a bit more time to the job, to training and to focus with less interruptions."