Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has denied any talk of a “crisis” within the Red Bull junior driver programme.
Pierre Gasly would step up to replace Ricciardo, and with Brendan Hartley released from Toro Rosso after a poor first full season in the sport, they were forced to bring Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat back into the fold.
Albon, Kvyat and Hartley had all been re-introduced to the programme after being dropped years prior, but Tost denies that they are running out of drivers, even though the next person in-line Dan Ticktum, who tested for Red Bull in Bahrain, doesn’t have enough points yet for a superlicense.
“No, it is nonsense that the Red Bull Young Driver Programme is in crisis,” Tost told Motorsport.com.
“Dr Helmut Marko does a fantastic job and we have good drivers.
“There would only be a crisis if we had no drivers from our programme at Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
“But we have Max, who can win races and hopefully also the Championship; the talented and fast Pierre and two fantastic riders at Toro Rosso.
“It is not the environment that determines who is successful and who is not, they do it themselves.
“Their performance is the deciding factor and we can be honest about that. We say: ‘If you do not perform well enough, you are out.'”
It was met with some negativity when Kvyat and Albon were announced as Toro Rosso’s 2019 line-up, but Tost believes the team were not scraping the barrel with this duo.
“If they continue to develop and become more mature, if they show that they can do better, then they can just come back. That’s no problem, he explained.”