Toro Rosso duo Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have been told that they have a genuine chance of grabbing a race seat at Red Bull Racing in the future, with the team making it clear that it would prefer to take one of the youngsters than a driver from elsewhere.
With Red Bull Racing currently having a vacancy for next season as Mark Webber's contract remains on a rolling one-year deal, there is already talk about what the team may choose to do if its current driver decides not to stay. And, with renewed reports over the winter suggesting that Lewis Hamilton could be a contender Red Bull Racing, team principal Christian Horner has responded by suggesting that it was actually Ricciardo and Vergne who would be in pole position for an RBR opportunity if they shine this season.
"I think it is entirely logical that if you have a youth policy, and that youth policy is delivering real talent, and that talent is exciting talent as Sebastian Vettel has demonstrated, then it would make more sense to take a home grown driver rather than going externally," explained Horner in Melbourne. "But that's not something we need to be thinking about for a little while."
Horner believes that Ricciardo and Vergne could develop into exactly the kind of drivers that Red Bull Racing needs, although he thinks it is too early to state which one will come out on top.
"We'll be keeping a very close eye on them," he said. "They're both RBR drivers that have been placed on loan effectively to Toro Rosso. They are both very talented young guys that have had their GP debuts as a result of Red Bull's investment in youth and talent, and it's a really exciting period.
"I think they are two of the most exciting youngsters to have been on the periphery of F1 over the last couple of years and they have the opportunity now to go head-to-head to show they have warranted that opportunity and investment that has been placed within them. I think it'll be fascinating to see how the two of them evolve throughout the season."