The Red Bull young driver program has been one of the most successful ways young talent can climb the ladder to the top of motorsport.

Perhaps the most competitive and certainly one of the most ruthless this is a place where only the strongest survive and when the cream rise to the top you can be sure they have earned it.

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Despite being on the grid for ten seasons now, this year marked the first time both seats at the top team were filled with drivers to have come through the program as Daniel Ricciardo partnered the first man to have come through this route, Sebastian Vettel.

And it is safe to say that the standard Ricciardo and Vettel set for those who want to follow in their footsteps is incredibly high.

Red Bull effect

In many ways having a team like Red Bull at the front, where they have been since 2009, has been great for Formula 1. In a time when the influence of pay drivers has increased and some believe has lowered the standard of the current grid, with Red Bull you knew that to be there you had to be world champion material.

For Mark Webber he was a stalwart of the team having been there for seven seasons and his ability made him worthy of being at the team when it finally reached the front. But it was always a matter of time because sooner or later, as the young drivers came through, the team would look to bring those racers through.

It was with little surprise then when Webber hung up his F1 helmet that the team would look to find its second superstar after the emergence of Sebastian Vettel.

In Daniel Ricciardo they have found just that, a man, who maybe won't reach the giddy heights Vettel did, but has certainly proven himself as the right man for the job.

Dilemma

The problem Red Bull have, however, is with the emergence of the team at the top, more and more young drivers want to try and take the same route Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have.

As a result, the Austrian drinks giant now has so many good young drivers on its books that, in reality, they could have their own series and fill it with drivers arguably good enough for F1.

So with just two seats available at the very top and so many drivers potentially fighting for them, would Red Bull be wrong to bring Toro Rosso up as a possible front running team?

Toro Rosso's time to shine?

Of course for Red Bull having what is largely perceived to be the junior team beat the main outfit could be a tricky proposition but it wouldn't be the first time the Italian team would be able to do so.

With Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso was the top Red Bull team in 2008 taking the first win for a Dietrich Mateschitz-backed team at Monza while Red Bull Racing floundered in the midfield.

The new rules in 2009 changed all that as did the promotion of Vettel and Red Bull Racing eventually became the giant it is today while Toro Rosso resorted to being the midfield team and the first step for its drivers into F1.

But by having Toro Rosso as a more competitive team it would offer even greater opportunities for its young drivers.

Future issues

Currently in Ricciardo and Vettel, Red Bull have a team that could arguably be at the top of F1 for the next five or so years and if that was the case, with the likes of Daniil Kvyat and now Max Verstappen if they do not see the opportunities coming to reach the top with Red Bull then it could create future problems

The last thing Red Bull bosses will want is to bring these drivers through only to have them leave and succeed elsewhere, the prime example of this is Sergio Perez who was in Ferrari's academy but was unlucky when he arrived at McLaren and is now at Force India.

If Toro Rosso, however, had the potential to win races and possibly championships, Red Bull as a company would still be the winners even if the main Red Bull team wouldn't.

A third team?

This is an idea I mentioned late last year as the hunt for a new 12th team began, but for Red Bull it may make sense to invest in a third team.

While it may not have to have the Red Bull name a possible idea could be to partner up with a group who are looking to make it onto the F1 grid and use that as a new stepping stone into the sport.

This is something Ferrari have done before with engine deals, they have supplied the units at a lower price if the team takes on a young driver, Sauber was the best example as is Jules Bianchi currently with Marussia.

The recent tie up with Gene Haas, who will be entering the sport with his own team called Haas Formula in 2016, could be another example where a young driver like Raffaele Marciello could step into F1 en route to a possible future Ferrari drive.

For Red Bull, doing this would also then free up Toro Rosso to be able to move them up the grid.

Of course making Toro Rosso into another front-running team is much easier said than done, and whether Dietrich Mateschitz would be willing to spend the money likely required to build up the team is another area for debate, however, given the strength and depth of the current Red Bull program if the current status quo remains then there will be a lot of good drivers left very disappointed indeed.

Topics:
Formula 1