Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Max Verstappen will take on more responsibility next season as the senior member of the team.
Verstappen’s former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo opted to leave the team in order to link up with Renault ahead of the 2019 campaign.
Horner admits he is disappointed the Australian decided to depart but has confidence in 21-year-old Dutchman.
Pierre Gasly, 22, has stepped up from sister team Toro Rosso to replace Ricciardo and Horner hopes Verstappen can form another strong partnership with his new team-mate.
“Max is now the experienced one,” Horner told Netherlands publication Formule 1. “So the team will be looking towards him more now.
“Pierre of course has the potential to develop and make life difficult for Max. Hopefully they’ll push each other and help to get the best out of each other, just like Max and Daniel did.”
Horner explained that he is still “surprised” by Ricciardo’s decision to leave the Milton Keynes-based team but respects his decision to try “something new”, and he is happy to have Gasly driving for Red Bull next season.
He added: “But he made his choice and we are very happy with Pierre.”
Verstappen is 5.25 to win the Drivers’ Championship outright in 2019 and Gasly can be backed at 29.00, with Red Bull 4.50 to claim the Constructors’ Championship.