Scuderia Toro Rosso duo Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo have been told that they have a genuine chance of a seat at Red Bull Racing in the future, provided they impress next year.
Vergne and Ricciardo both had new deals announced in the build-up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after a rookie campaign where both have shown flashes of promise. Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he believes that the pair are "real talents," but added that they will only get the chance of a step up to a Red Bull seat if they show real potential.
"The objective will be to keep a close eye on them, and at some point we would like to consider them as a driver," Horner explained. "But they have to achieve that on merit.
"Were we to have a seat available [in 2014], they would have to demonstrate that they have the ability to step up like Sebastian [Vettel] did. They have the opportunity do that, but there is no prerequisite that they will be a Red Bull Racing driver.
"It is a great opportunity for them and we will be keeping a close eye on them, but our objective will always be to have the best pairing possible in the cars."
Horner also singled out Antonio Felix da Costa, who finished third in this year's GP3 championship and won four FR3.5 races, as another potential star of the future.
"In Daniel and Jean-Eric, and Felix da Costa, we have got some really exciting young prospects that we keep a close eye on how they develop," said Horner. "All three of them are real talents. Ricciardo has done a strong job this year, Jean-Eric in his first year has again done well and shown promise and it is obviously difficult when you are in a car that obviously has got its challenges as well, but they have acquitted themselves well.
"We will run Felix da Costa in the young driver test here. He has done some aerodynamic tests and show runs for us previously, and he has had a tremendous run in [Formula Renault 3.5] since he joined that championship. He looks an exciting prospect, but F1 is something totally different."