Red Bull's motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko claims he expects Daniel Ricciardo to be as good as the man he replaces, Mark Webber, in 2014.
As the Australian prepares to take one of the most coveted yet controversial seats on the F1 grid, many believe the role expected from Ricciardo is very much a back-up role for Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel himself recently denied that thought, but Marko claims the 24-year-old from Perth is not going to be expected to beat the likely four-time world champion.
Asked by reporters what was expected from Ricciardo, Marko said: "He knows," said Marko.
"We hope that after three or four races he is able to start challenging Sebastian. I'm not saying that he has to beat Vettel; what I hope is that he brings the points we need to win the constructors' title."
"We need Daniel to be as fast as Mark," he added. "Sometimes Mark was on the same level as Sebastian, and sometimes even better. That's what we want from Ricciardo."
Those remarks would seem to explain why top driver's like Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso were overlooked by Red Bull, in the fear that having two top driver's at the team could destablise the team.
"Managing two drivers like Sebastian and Kimi would not be easy," he admitted. "Each of them would have the obligation to be the best."
And for Alonso?
"We've never worked with Alonso," Marko said, "and these combinations (two world champions together) requires knowledge about the character of the two drivers.
"With some it is possible to work together, others not. From what we saw of Alonso we thought there was not a way to manage the relationship."
Marko insists there are other reasons too.
"We decided what was best for us in the long term, not just what was best immediately," he said.
"How old is Kimi, 34? Daniel is 24. And the contract is for three years.
"So Daniel was the one who offered the best prospects for our team," he added.
And the preparation for the challenges of the new regulations coming next year also played a major part.
"Only the best and most intelligent drivers will be at the front" in 2014, when the huge challenge of the new technical regulations will be in force.
"They will have to figure out how to use the turbo engine without traction control, use the two energy recovery systems and manage the consumption of fuel," said Marko.
"We have an extensive simulation programme underway already to better prepare our drivers," he revealed. "So this requirement also guided us in choosing Daniel."
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