Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko has stressed there is no number one driver at the team and that both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are treated equally.

Verstappen put pen to paper on a new, multi-year deal with Red Bull back in October, with the team saying in the announcement it would look to build itself around the Dutchman moving forward.

The comments raised questions about Ricciardo's future with Red Bull, given his contract expires at the end of next season, but Marko stressed in an interview with Verstappen's official website that neither driver was favoured within the team.

"I didn’t favour [Max], but in qualifying he was most of the time faster," Marko said.

"With seven DNFs his season was not a walk in the park and sometimes his morale was really down, but it was a steep learning process for him and he came out better than he was before. His two wins were the proof.

"We don’t have a number one. Both drivers are equally treated and it is up to them to define the pecking order. I will always love the faster one!"

Looking back on Red Bull's season, Marko said he believed the team could have beaten Ferrari to second place in both the drivers' and constructors' championships had it not struggled with reliability for much of the season.

"Ricciardo struggled a bit in the first half of the year but then adapted and on some occasions was at the same speed – and sometimes even faster – than Max," Marko said.

"My verdict is both drivers developed from last season. They pushed each other to the next level and hopefully next year to the very top.

“On the circumstances – or let’s say luck – we had more than 10 DNFs. Picture this! This outstanding record speaks for itself.

"Without that we would have been significantly further up in both championships. P2 would very likely have been ours."