LONDON: Red Bull on Thursday (Friday in Manila) dumped Daniil Kvyat for the rest of the season after his double-accident Russian Grand Prix and called up teenage Formula One sensation Max Verstappen.
The Russian driver crashed into Sebastien Vettel’s Ferrari twice at Sochi. He was punished by dropping down to Verstappen’s car in Red Bull’s junior Toro Rosso team.
Verstappen, who made history by becoming Formula One’s youngest driver last year at the age of 17, will partner Daniel Ricciardo from the Spanish Grand Prix next week.
“I cannot wait for that special moment to happen,” Verstappen said looking forward to the Barcelona race.
“The next step in my relatively short career so far, is an amazing opportunity,” he said.
“I’ll have the chance to learn a lot from the top team that is Red Bull Racing. I’m also looking forward to work with an experienced and proven team mate like Daniel Ricciardo,” Verstappen added.
The blunt move by Red Bull surprised many drivers.
Kvyat returns to Toro Rosso after only replacing Vettel at Red Bull in 2015.
“Really? one bad race and Kvyat’s dropped, what about the podium in the previous race? #Shortmemories,” commented McLaren’s Jenson Button on Twitter.
But Red Bull Principal Christian Horner 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,” he said.
“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,” added Horner.
“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,” he further said.
Kvyat was in the Red Bull dog house after his antics in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix triggered carnage on the first lap.
For the second race in succession, Vettel was left fuming by Kyvat’s driving.
Kvyat ran in to the back of the German at Turn Two and then as the pair recovered they clashed again at Turn Three at Sochi. The shock of the crash sent Vettel into a spin into the barriers and out of the race.
The Ferrari ace was so angry that his team radio comments were punctuated by a succession of “bleeps” as he swore about the incident.
Two weeks earlier, Vettel had accused Kvyat of diving “like a torpedo” into his car at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Kvyat cut a contrite figure after Sochi, admitting: “All the mess came from me. It doesn’t feel great, but sometimes this happens in F1. Usually I learn from it.”
“I apologize to everyone who was involved. I think we all need to talk. It’s easy to attack me and I guess everyone will and I’m OK with that,” he added.
Red Bull Senior Consultant Helmut Marko, who oversees the team for Red Bull owner Dieter Mateschitz, made clear his displeasure.
“Let’s put it this way,” the Austrian said. “Kvyat was over-motivated. Braking too late once and hitting another car would be acceptable in front of his home crowd, but this doesn’t apply for the second crash.”
“It’s a pity because he not only ruined Vettel’s race — and Ricciardo’s race — but also his own race. He had to do an extra stop. It was a day of disaster for Red Bull,” he added.
Verstappen, the son of Jos Verstappen, a team-mate of German legend Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1994, finished 12th in the 2015 world championship with 49 points.
His achievements were marked at the FIA (International Automobile Federation] world governing body awards ceremony in December when he stole the limelight from Lewis Hamilton, collecting the Personality of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Action of the Year awards.