Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost insists that both of his current drivers could do a job for Red Bull Racing if they were given the chance to move up the energy brand's senior F1 team next year.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have been linked with a move up to the Red Bull line-up if Mark Webber was to leave the team, with the pair hoping to follow the same career route as Sebastian Vettel – who won his first F1 race with Toro Rosso before being promoted as Webber's team-mate following the retirement of David Coulthard.
Speaking to the official F1 website, Tost said he felt both drivers could make the step up if they showed enough potential during the remainder of the season, although he admitted that Ricciardo's extra experience gave him the upper hand.
“Both would have to demonstrate an exceptionally good second half of the season, because don't forget we are speaking about the world champions, so the requirement profile is quite different to being with a team like Toro Rosso,” he replied when asked if the pair were capable of making the move. “But don't get me wrong, both are on a very good path and everything will depend on the next couple of months as to whether one of the two of them - should the need be there - qualify for Red Bull Racing.
“Performance is all that matters and you definitely can see that Daniel with eleven races more under his belt - which is more than half of a season - is probably in a better situation. Right now he has the upper hand, which we have seen in Barcelona. But that is a snapshot right now. Generally I would say that both would fit into the Red Bull concept.
“Both are on schedule with their development. You can definitely see an upward curve at each race weekend with both drivers - and that is all that matters. Of course, with the performance level the technical understanding has to grow too - and that's also working with both guys. So my gut feeling is that both will have a future in F1.”
Thus far, the pair have scored eight points to leave Toro Rosso seventh in the championship standings, and Tost said the team would push hard during the remainder of the season to at least retain that position.
“We will arrive at almost every race this season with upgrades, which was not the case in 2012,” he said, “and the good news is that all these new bits and parts do work, which is not always the case. Every team can tell you a thing or two about that! We came to Barcelona with an almost brand new car: we have a new engine cover, we have new sidepods, we have a new diffuser, a new floor, a new rear wing, a new exhaust system - and it looks like everything is working as we had expected. Sure, if you bring an almost new car you need a bit more time to implement everything, but we are pretty optimistic.”