Helmut Marko: Drivers must deliver to stay with Red Bull

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has sent out a warning shot to the Formula 1 drivers on the energy drink giant’s books, saying that they they will be dropped if they do not deliver in 2016.

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were evenly matched at Red Bull throughout 2015, but both are thought to be under pressure with up-and-coming racers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. both impressing at junior team Toro Rosso.

Verstappen, 18, had a particularly impressive debut season in F1, leading to speculation about a move up the grid to either Red Bull or potentially away from the team’s setup.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Marko said that the members of the junior program had to deliver if they wanted to keep their seats.

“We basically have long-term contracts at the Red Bull junior program and the whole program is based on performance,” Marko said.

“So no shoot-out, but be very clear: the one who is not delivering goes.”

Marko expects Toro Rosso to outperform the senior Red Bull team for the first half of the season by virtue of its 2015-spec Ferrari power unit.

Red Bull will race with a rebranded Renault power unit in 2016, which is still thought to be down on power compared to the old Ferrari engine for the start of the year.

“I could imagine that they will land in front of Red Bull Racing at the start of the season – probably until midseason – because the power difference is still that significant,” Marko said.

“In midseason probably the performance will drop, as you cannot further develop the 2015 engine.”