Helmut Marko believes Valtteri Bottas is the safe option and Red Bull would have gone for youth
Lewis Hamilton was left without a team-mate at Mercedes when Nico Rosberg decided to retire just days after beating him to the world title.
The team were left scrambling to find a replacement with top targets like Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel already tied down by large contracts.
However, on Monday they revealed that Bottas had been released by Williams after lengthy negotiations and he would drive for Mercedes in 2017.
"For us, we would have done differently,” Marko told German publication Motorsport Magazin.
“We would have trained a junior.
“No risk, no fun.”
Valtteri Bottas has 77 races of F1 experience with Williams already
Red Bull took a risk by promoting Max Verstappen at the age of just 18
Mercedes initially considered promoting 22-year-old Pascal Wehrlein from their young driver programme.
However, the German driver failed to impress for Manor Racing in his rookie season and the team wanted to give him more time to develop.
But Wehrlein and fellow Mercedes young driver Esteban Ocon will both drive in F1 this season – for Sauber and Force India respectively.
It will be Bottas taking Rosberg’s place at Mercedes, and Toto Wolff has told both drivers they will be allowed to race although he does not anticipate that causing the kind of problems that emerged from Hamilton’s three previous title battles with his team-mate.
And Marko, who also has two fast drivers in Mark Webber and Max Verstappen at Red Bull, admitted that having two men competing is always a worry.
“The danger is quite real," Marko added.
“But it does not change our racing philosophy or enthusiasm in any way.
“With us, there are no team orders.
“We are more racers than that."