Hungary - Christian Horner has acknowledged that Red Bull needs to give Max Verstappen a winning car for 2018.
Recently, the 19-year-old Dutchman and his surly father Jos have not categorically rejected rumours Verstappen is linked with a future switch to Ferrari.
At the same time, even though an often clearly frustrated Verstappen is locked in a Red Bull contract until 2019, his car this year has been regularly breaking down.
So when asked if he was relieved when Verstappen finally finished a race recently at Silverstone, Red Bull team boss Horner admitted: "You could say that."
When asked about Verstappen's recent outbursts, he told Algemeen Dagblad newspaper: "Of course he has shown some emotion, especially when you stick a microphone under his chin after a bad race, but he has also always been under control.
"This phase in his career is still character building for him, because F1 is not a sport that relies simply on a racquet, bat or ball. So he will only get stronger and more complete."
He said Red Bull is at least making serious progress with pace and performance, after a less than impressive start to 2017.
Horner added: "Since Barcelona, there has been real progress in every race with the possible exception of Silverstone, but we're clearly on the right track."
He said there is no doubt Verstappen will still be a Red Bull driver next year, but admitted that the energy drink-owned team needs to make a step for 2018.
"It's up to us to give Max a car with which he can win before we talk about the future.
"If we do that, I'm sure there's no team Max wants to race for other than ours," he added.