Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says its planning to cut back on the number of drivers within its junior ranks beyond this year.

The Austrian outfit has been renowned for its approach to bringing a plethora of young drivers into Formula 1 under the watchful eye of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.

While Marko’s ruthless approach has often been criticised, it has yielded six Drivers’ Championships to this point with drivers whose careers were developed by Red Bull.

As it aims to unearth the next Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen, Red Bull currently fields seven drivers across the 20-car grid in F1’s premier feeder series, Formula 2.

However, only Japanese racer Ayumu Iwasa, who sits third at present, remains in realistic title contention with three rounds remaining.

Subsequently, Horner has underlined that Red Bull will begin a process of reducing the number of drivers in its junior programme to ensure only the brightest talents remain.

“I think that look, I mean, things go in waves, it produced Sebastian Vettel, it’s produced Max Verstappen,” Horner said regarding the Red Bull Junior Team on the ESPN Podcast.

“Daniel [Ricciardo] is a graduate of it. Carlos Sainz is a graduate of it. Pierre Gasly is a graduate of it. There’s so many drivers it’s given opportunity to and got to Formula 1. Alex Albon being another.

“And yeah, it’s focusing a bit more on youth I think going forward as well. We have a lot of drivers in Formula 2 this year, I think that will be thinned out moving forward and perhaps a refocus on perhaps some of the lower formulas as well.

“But you know, a Max Verstappen or a Sebastian Vettel, they don’t come along every season. So, it’s just making sure that you identify that talent when it does come along.”

Ayumu Iwasa (JPN) Dams. 23.07.2023. FIA Formula 2 Championship, Rd 10, Budapest, Hungary, Feature Race, Sunday

While Verstappen’s dominance is set to reward him with a third consecutive F1 Drivers’ title this year, the effectiveness of Red Bull’s development programme has been called into question somewhat ever since the reigning World Champions drafted in Sergio Perez to partner the Dutchman in 2021.

The Mexican’s signing marked the first time since Mark Webber in 2006 that Red Bull had fielded a driver in its senior team who hadn’t been a graduate of its illustrious academy.

When Gasly was snapped up by Alpine at the end of last year, Marko again overlooked the Red Bull junior drivers by replacing the Frenchman with Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries.

Whilst de Vries’ struggles saw him axed only 10 races into his debut F1 campaign, Red Bull elected to place Ricciardo at AlphaTauri for the remainder of the 2023 season.

The 34-year-old Australian was chosen in favour of Red Bull Junior Team member Liam Lawson, who is currently gunning for the title in the Japanese Super Formula series.

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