Max Verstappen has sensationally replaced Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull in a move which sees Kvyat demoted back to Toro Rosso. The news comes as somewhat of a surprise but, as mentioned on Lights Out the other day, it seems like an entirely inevitable decision. We take a look at what this means for each of the Red Bull family of drivers.
Kvyat’s demotion may seem like a knee jerk reaction to his calamitous first lap at the Russian Grand Prix but it’s arguable that this move has little to do with Daniil’s past performances. Red Bull need to keep hold of Verstappen after nurturing his talent over the past few seasons. To lose the Dutchman to another team at this stage would be a catastrophe for the team, so they have jumped the gun and moved Verstappen to the top team in order to keep the other big teams away. The move has a ripple effect on Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz too.
As Christian Horner has said in Red Bull’s press release on the matter:
“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.”
But what does this mean for each of their drivers? What are the repercussions that the switch has on the season ahead for Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz and Kvyat?
“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.” – Christian Horner
Embed from Getty ImagesThe pressure is on for Max Verstappen to get to grips with his new machinery at Red Bull. He goes from having a team-mate with the same level of experience to having a team-mate who has 2 years under his belt at the main Red Bull team. It may take him a race or two to be able to fully challenge Ricciardo but once he gets up to speed, the battle between the two will be fascinating. Verstappen does run the risk of ‘Vettel-itis’ though and could easily become less than popular if he starts to get preferential treatment within the team. Max has over two years to become the youngest person to stand on the podium and with Monaco coming up- a track that will suit the Red Bull car and a circuit that he went well at last year until his crash with Grosjean- could we see him beat that record sooner rather than later?
Max says of his move:
“Together with Red Bull Racing we’ll do everything to prepare me as best as possible for my first laps in the RB12, next week in Barcelona. I cannot wait for that special moment to happen.”
Before the last race in Russia, Kvyat responded to rumours about him moving back to Toro Rosso in 2017 by saying: “Toro Rosso was a great school for me, but I think I passed it already with good grades.”
You can’t help but feel some sympathy for the Russian, who joins a long list of other drivers- including Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne- to be unceremoniously dumped from a Red Bull team.
“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.”– Christian Horner
The decision is not entirely unjust. I’d argue that Verstappen has a lot more potential that Kvyat- but that is not a disservice to Daniil’s talent. Kvyat must now consistently beat Carlos Sainz in the other Toro Rosso if he has any hope of staying with any Red Bull team in 2017.
“We are more than happy to welcome Daniil back to Faenza and look forward to having a successful season with him.” – Franz Tost
Fan reaction to the news has been mixed so far. Even Jenson Button has commented on the situation:
— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) May 5, 2016
Daniel is a 3-time race winner and arguably one of the best talents on the grid. It’ll be a tough challenge for Verstappen to beat him. If Max does so regularly then we can safely assume that the Dutch driver is indeed living up to the hype that surrounds him.
The move does put Ricciardo under some pressure. He won’t want to be beaten by Verstappen as he joins the team. Should Max start beating him and it become clear that there is a preference to Verstappen over Ricciardo then it may well lead to the Australian looking for a place elsewhere on the grid, through his own choice.
Sainz now gets a chance to prove himself against a known quantity. Red Bull know what Kvyat is capable of in top machinery. For Sainz to be in with a shot at a 2017 Red Bull seat, should Ricciardo move elsewhere, then he has to beat Kvyat in both Qualifying and the races.
Sainz knows Kvyat well, having been team-mates with him in multiple junior championships including GP3 in 2013 at Christian Horner’s Arden team. In that season, Kvyat won the title and scored 168 points; Sainz trialled behind in 10th with 66 points.
Was it the correct decision to swap Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat? Have your say in our Twitter poll:
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— Lights Out ●●●●● (@LightsOutF1Blog) May 5, 2016
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.