On the back of an awful Russian Grand Prix, Red Bull shake up their driver line up for Spain.
In a move to protect their star of the future, Red Bull drop Daniil Kvyat and rush Max Verstappen into the main team for the Spanish Grand Prix onwards. The move comes on the back of Kvyat making contact with Vettel twice during the opening lap in Sochi, costing the team a strong result.
Rumours were rife on Wednesday night that a move to drop the Russian down to Toro Rosso was coming on the back of a poor home Grand Prix for Daniil. Not many though felt the rumours were true and waited for news to brake from Red Bull that Kvyat was out, and Verstappen was in, news that broke this morning.
Now Red Bull will run a driver line-up in Spain of Ricciardo and Verstappen, while Kvyat rejoins Toro Rosso – the team he made his Formula One debut with in 2014.
Christian Horner, Team Principal of Red Bull, said, “Max has proven to be an outstanding young talent. His performance at Toro Rosso has been impressive so far and we are pleased to give him the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing.
“We are in the unique position to have all four drivers across Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso under long-term contracts with Red Bull, so we have the flexibility to move them between the two teams.
“Dany will be able to continue his development at Toro Rosso, in a team that he is familiar with, giving him the chance to regain his form and show his potential.”
As Horner said, it is a chance for Kvyat to regain his form. A potential indicator that this move was not just a knee-jerk reaction to Kvyat’s poor Russian Grand Prix that cost not only him, but also Vettel and Ricciardo.
Closer looks back to the moment Kvyat span Vettel at turn three in Russia also show Daniil was not totally in the wrong. The turn one instance was entirely his fault as he missed his braking point and hit the rear of Vettel, who in turn went into Ricciardo. But through turn three, as Vettel began to slow, Kvyat was boxed in with Hamilton on his left, Vettel in front, and either Toro Rosso to his right and behind. Leaving him with nowhere to go even if he wanted to. Moreover, Red Bull’s decision to change both drivers onto the medium tyres heavily compromised their races, not just pitting early in general.
Furthermore, just one race earlier, Horner was stating Kvyat was “really on the crest of a wave. He’s driving fantastically.” That coming following his podium in China.
However, despite finishing on the podium, the gap between Kvyat and Ricciardo was just seven seconds. That being after Ricciardo was forced to pit from the lead of the race with a puncture – as well as starting the race from the front row.
Kvyat on the other hand started the Australian Grand Prix from 18th, the Bahrain GP from 15th, Chinese from sixth and Russian from eighth. His Red Bull replacement? Fifth, tenth, ninth and ninth. As well as Max finishing in the points during the first three races before an engine failure prevented him from points in Sochi.
Another interesting note to take from this are the similarities between Verstappen’s and Kvyat’s routes to the Red Bull team. Although Kvyat was promoted to Red Bull over the winter when Vettel left for Ferrari – rather than changing teams mid-season – he was rushed into the Red Bull team after just one season in Formula One with Toro Rosso. A team he was rushed into on the back of being the 2012 runner-up in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, before becoming the GP3 Series champion in 2013.
Verstappen? He made his car racing debut in 2013, moved to Formula Three for 2014, and became the youngest driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend when he drove for Toro Rosso in FP1 at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. His debut coming just a few months after he joined the Red Bull young driver programme and was confirmed as Toro Rosso’s race driver for the following year.
Now, just one season and four races after his debut in F1, Verstappen will be in the spotlight more than ever as he moves to the main Red Bull team. The move to place him in the Red Bull, at the expense of Kvyat, may also be a move by the team to keep Max happy and not risk loosing him to the likes of Ferrari for 2017.
Keep him happy, give him the best chance to do well and why would Verstappen want to leave, right? Kvyat on the other hand just becomes another driver who wasn’t up to Red Bull’s extremely high standards. Unless of course, he does wonders back at Toro Rosso and gives Red Bull some serious questions to answer.
Do you agree with Red Bull dropping Kvyat for Verstappen? Or do you feel Daniil was hard done by? Leave your comments below!