Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Daniel Ricciardo will get the same equipment and opportunities as reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel when he joins the team next season.
The Australian, who currently drives for Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, will graduate to the senior team next season as a replacement for Mark Webber who is leaving the sport to pursue a career with Porsche in sportscars.
Horner told BBC Radio 5 live: “We expect him to challenge Sebastian. He’s employed by team to do the best job that he can. He’ll get equal opportunity. He’ll get the same chance, the same equipment [as Sebastian] and it will be down to what he does on the circuit that counts at the end of the day.”
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen and even Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso have been linked with Red Bull, but it was Ricciardo, who won the British Formula Three championship in 2009, who got the nod.
The Australian made his F1 debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix with HRT and has since competed in 42 grands prix in total with a best finish of seventh in the Chinese Grand Prix earlier this year.
The 24-year-old then impressed when he tested for Red Bull at the young driver test at Silverstone in July.
“Daniel has really earned his place in the team,” added Horner. “We wanted to put together a strong pairing not just for next year but for future seasons.
“He tested really impressively with us earlier in the summer and obviously we have been keeping a close eye on his performances in Toro Rosso and therefore it was logical to give him a drive.
“He’s a really exciting prospect. He’s a young guy, he’s already won a championship in British Formula Three and he’s won a lot of races in junior categories.
“He’s got a good character and personality, he’s always got a smile on his face, but most importantly he’s seriously quick.”