Ricciardo
Helmut Marko

Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko seemed to have been in a bragging mood off late. This time he has taken digs at rivals Mercedes and Red Bull for not promoting young drivers. He cited the example of reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly, who has been given a shot to race in the junior team. A number of drivers, past and present have been part of the Red Bull program. We’ve had the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr, Pierre Gasly and even Sebastian Vettel at one point of time.

Red Bull young drivers program
French driver Pierre Gasly has been part of the Red Bull young drivers program

Gasly is expected to join the Toro Rosso team full-time to replace the departing Carlos Sainz Jr. in 2018. Marko spoke about Red Bull’s future plans with Gasly. “Red Bull, in complete contrast to Ferrari and Mercedes, have balls, and we put young drivers in the car. So let’s see. We have our ideas, and as soon as everything is finalised we will let you know.”

How do the Young Drivers Programs Stack Up?

Mercedes and Ferrari do have Young Driver Programs but they are smaller than Red Bull’s. Their works F1 team line-ups are full of experienced drivers. The young drivers are all either in or on the verge of F1. Mercedes’ proteges are Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Ferrari are eyeing Sauber as a potential customer team. Their young talent include Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Marko also spoke about the possibility of Honda junior Nobuharu Matsushita joining Toro Rosso. However, he said that he didn’t think Matsushita is ready for F1 yet.

There were also rumours flying around that Toro Rosso could look to a driver who has additional sponsorship like Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson and Jolyon Palmer. But Marko was quick to shoot them down. He said “We are Red Bull, we are different. It’s difficult to imagine.”

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