It is likely a Toro Rosso driver will step up if Mark Webber does not stay at Red Bull beyond 2011, the energy drink company's motor racing chief Helmut Marko has admitted.
While most key players including teammate Sebastian Vettel, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey recently had their contracts extended, Red Bull Racing is holding off re-signing Webber until his ongoing performance and motivation is gauged.
Already fighting for survival at the junior team Toro Rosso, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi are therefore also dicing for arguably the most coveted seat in F1 at present.
"This is by design," Marko, the manager of Red Bull's driver development programme, told the Italian magazine Autosprint.
"We will try to do what we did three years ago with Sebastian Vettel, when David Coulthard retired," he said.
"Of course, this will not be automatic," insisted Austrian Marko. "If a driver does not meet all of the professional requirements, we will not offer him the opportunity to drive at Red Bull."