In what is probably a statement of the obvious, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed that one of the Toro Rosso drivers will be in the pound seats to replace Mark Webber if the Australian does not stay at Red Bull beyond the end of the 2011 season.
With the majority of the team’s key players – including Sebastian Vettel, team boss Christian Horner and leading designer Adrian Newey – having all had their contracts extended to remain with the team well into the future, the Milton Keynes outfit has held off re-signing Mark Webber, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
And while the two Toro Rosso drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi, are already battling with one another to avoid getting usurped by the team’s test driver Daniel Ricciardo, both will now engage in a new battle to move up to the senior team.
Marko, who heads up the drinks’ giant’s driver development programme, told Autosprint: “We will try to do what we did three years ago with Sebastian Vettel, when David Coulthard retired.
“Of course, this will not be automatic,” he added, cautiously. “If a driver does not meet all of the professional requirements, we will not offer him the opportunity to drive at Red Bull.”
Having scored all of the team’s seven championship points to-date, Buemi is best-placed to pick up the spoils after another point-scoring drive at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Alguersuari was again a rather loose cannon. After hitting Kamui Kobayashi in a fit of pique during qualifying at Monaco, in the race he helped trigger the race stoppage when he collected the back of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren – all while running ahead of his team-mate.
It cost him a points-scoring finish and at this rate, if Toro Rosso are indeed thinking of pulling their usual trick and replacing one of their drivers with Ricciardo mid-season, it’s a no-brainer which of their drivers is on the chopping block.
[Original image via Sutton Images]