Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum needs more time to develop as a driver before he is "anywhere near a Formula 1 level" according to Christian Horner, dashing speculation the Briton could move up to a Toro Rosso seat for 2019.

Ticktum, 19, currently races in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, and is the leading member of Red Bull's junior driver programme, prompting suggestions he could move into F1 with Toro Rosso next year.

Despite not being able to gain the points required for an FIA Super License next year, Red Bull was understood to be seeking leeway from the FIA by retroactively counting points for Ticktum's Macau Grand Prix victory from last year.

Ticktum sparked controversy last week when he said he felt "robbed" of the title in F3 after seeing championship rival Mick Schumacher take five straight wins and move into a commanding points lead. Ticktum called Schumacher's pace "interesting" but denied he was questioning the legality of his car. His comments were later deleted from social media.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 in Sochi, Red Bull F1 team boss Horner said Ticktum was a "character" who "sometimes engages mouth before brain" before suggesting he was not yet ready to make the step up to a grand prix seat.

"He’s a talented driver, but he’s got more development to do before he’s anywhere near a Formula 1 level," Horner said.

"He’s fast, but he just needs to polish off a few rough edges."


Toro Rosso currently has two vacant seats for 2019, but one is set to be filled by Daniil Kvyat, who will return to the team he has twice previously been dropped from. His most recent appearance for Toro Rosso came in last year's United States Grand Prix. An announcement is expected at the Russian's home race in Sochi this weekend.

Asked about the speculation, Horner said: "I don’t comment on rumours, you should know that by now. Let’s wait and see what happens tomorrow."

With Ticktum out of the running for the second Toro Rosso seat, it is looking increasingly likely that Brendon Hartley will continue with the team for 2019 despite only scoring two points so far this season.

Current McLaren racer Stoffel Vandoorne confirmed on Thursday that he was rebuffed by Toro Rosso when he enquired about a seat, while it is thought Red Bull bosses are uneasy about its B-team accepting a rival team's junior, such as Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein is set to cut ties with Mercedes at the end of the year, but has been testing a Formula E car with Mahindra for the last couple of days in Spain ahead of a potential move into the championship later this year.