Sebastian Vettel says Red Bull should be celebrated for offering chances to younger drivers rather than pilloried for the way it is deemed to exert control over their careers.
The most successful product of Red Bull's renowned junior driver programme, Vettel made his F1 debut with BMW Sauber in 2007 with backing from the Austrian company before getting a full-time seat at Toro Rosso ahead of a hugely successful stint at Red Bull Racing that yielded four world titles.
Now with Ferrari, Vettel is one of only two drivers to have ever attained an alternative seat beyond the Red Bull fold, with the firm criticised for a ruthless process that has seen several young drivers promoted to F1, only to be dismissed having failed to excel.
Indeed, on the weekend Red Bull has shuffled its driver line-up by swapping Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen, the firm has been scrutinised for what some consider to be a ruthless attitude in the way it 'hires and fires'.
However, Vettel dismisses this assertion, saying Red Bull's method has opened the door for a number of drivers that otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity without its investment.
“You have to give a lot of positives for the programme. It's great to give young drivers a chance. I had my chance. I was given a lot of pressure, for sure if I hadn't delivered, I wouldn't be here. So that's the nature of the game, it doesn't matter where you get the chance, you need to use it. If you do or not may depend on various reasons.
“Other than looking for negatives, look at the positives, that people get a chance. Of course you can then make a judgement as to whether it's fair but in the first place, it's great there are people like Red Bull who are prepared to spend a lot of money on young drivers, giving them a chance in the first place, starting from a young age, in my case from karting. I think that's more good news then bad news.”
Only two drivers have ever exited the Red Bull fold in F1 and attained a seat elsewhere – Vettel and Vitantonio Liuzzi -, with the likes of Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Speed, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi and Jean-Eric Vergne all failing to land alternative drives in F1 after losing the support of Red Bull.