Dr Helmut Marko has played down speculation Max Verstappen will definitely be promoted to Red Bull’s senior team for 2017.
The Austrian, who runs the energy drink company’s F1 driver programme, was quoted recently as suggesting that because Dutchman Verstappen is so good, he will almost certainly move on after two years at Toro Rosso.
But he told Russia’s Sport Express on Friday: “I did not mean anything specific. Do not cling to those words. I was just praising Max’s progress.
“Verstappen really is very fast, it’s a fact. He is gaining experience, getting stronger in every respect, particularly in his consistency. He is on the right path,” Marko added.
He insisted, however, that it is simply too early for the media to be coming to the conclusion that Verstappen will replace Daniil Kvyat, who may have to return to Toro Rosso for 2017.
“Any talk about the driver compositions for next season usually begins no earlier than the end of the summer break,” said Marko.
“That is when it will be possible to raise the issue. In August, we will discuss the future of the drivers, and then in Spa I will tell you everything,” he added.
Marko suggested he is happy with Kvyat’s progress.
“I think (Daniel) Ricciardo has never been better,” he said, “but Daniil is trying to keep up. And he’s doing pretty well, as he is much younger. So everything is fine.
“Everything that is in the press now is nothing more than rumours,” added Marko.