Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has upped the pressure on his four drivers ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season, suggesting that any not delivering to expectation is out.
Following an upheaval in 2015, which saw Daniil Kvyat replace Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso adopt an all-rookie line-up of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, both teams will retain the same drivers in 2016.
Indeed, all eyes have been on Verstappen following a remarkable maiden campaign that yielded a best finish of fourth en route to 12th in the overall standings in only his second season of car racing.
Tipped for a top drive soon, many feel Verstappen is being primed for a move into Red Bull, though it remains to be seen when it could happen and how he would fit in, particularly after Kvyat impressed by finishing ahead of three-time race winner Ricciardo last year.
However, Marko has lit the blue touch paper under all of his drivers and urged them to perform in 2016 or risk losing their spot in the Red Bull driver programme, including Verstappen.
“We basically have long-term contracts at the Red Bull junior program and the whole program is based on performance,” he told F1.com
. “So no shoot-out, but be very clear: the one who is not delivering goes.
“Let's see what Verstappen delivers. The second season is sometimes trickier than the first!”