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Red Bull driver situation ‘healthy’ for the future

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Christian Horner believes that Red Bull is in a “healthy” and “incredible” situation with its driver options in Formula 1 for the future.

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat both graduated to the energy drink giant’s senior F1 team from Toro Rosso, its sister operation.

Current Toro Rosso drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. have impressed many since debuting at the beginning of 2015, with Verstappen’s performances being particularly noteworthy at just 18 years old.

Despite being just two races into the 2016 season, speculation is already rife about Red Bull’s driver line-up for 2017, with Verstappen being tipped for a swift promotion in the future.

Speaking to the official F1 website, team principal Horner said that having so many young and talented drivers on Red Bull’s books is no bad thing.

“It is a nice situation to have,” Horner said.

“Both Toro Rosso drivers are Red Bull drivers, as were Ricciardo and Kvyat – and [Sebastian] Vettel before – and all started out at Toro Rosso.

“It is an incredible situation to have such a pool of fantastic drivers. We don’t have an issue with [finding] competitive drivers in the next few years.”

Horner also echoed team advisor Helmut Marko’s recent comments, saying that the high competition for seats ensures all of the drivers continue to work hard.

“It is a healthy situation, it’s healthy competition and it keeps all the drivers honest,” he said.

Red Bull’s junior programme continues to aid young drivers ahead of a possible move into F1, with current leading light Pierre Gasly set to challenge for the GP2 championship in 2016 with Prema Powerteam.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”