This week it was announced by the media that eighteen-year-old Max Verstappen would replace Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull Racing for the remaining 17 races on the 2016 calendar, and boy did it come as a wake-up call.
There is no doubt in my mind that the young Russian has been under immense pressure to perform, especially with the new talent of Sainz and Verstappen quickly coming up through the ranks. Also, let us not forget Dany’s now former team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, who seems to have been in impeccable form since stepping into that Red Bull for the first time.
Granted, it’s not been plain-sailing for Kvyat, but he’s had his fair share of moments of brilliance too. Merely three weeks ago he was standing on the podium, being branded a ‘future world champion’ from left right and centre.
So, what changed so rapidly?
Yes, I think we have all established that Daniil had a very rocky home race. Ultimately, his collisions with Vettel cost Red Bull a lot of points. Kvyat’s previous contact with Vettel in Shanghai prohibited Danny Ric from a podium finish…so maybe the tension was already building. Podium or not.
Whether you view the Turn 2 and 3 incidents as a split second mistake or something more, far worse has happened. Romain Grosjean in 2012, I think we all remember that one. But look at how his team reacted and look at where he is today!
Regardless, Daniil Kvyat is quick, skilled and misjudged the opening lap, in my eyes at least. Perhaps, if anything, there’s still a slight lack of experience. So what makes putting an eighteen-year-old in a Red Bull seat justifiable? Then again, Kvyat was only 19 when he first drove for the Formula 1 giants.
The likelihood is, most probably, a more of a political matter- not just to do with Dany’s a-bit-of-a-nightmare-race. I’m sure Helmut Marko and the rest of the personnel at Red Bull knew all too well of the imminent threat Ferrari and even Mercedes posed.
Both would potentially be looking to sign the Dutchman in the near future (as early as 2017 when Verstappen’s contract with RBR runs out), which left Red Bull knowing they had to get in there quick if they didn’t want Verstappen to slip through their fingertips.
However, is four races into the season too quick? Probably.
To us, the fans and the media on the outside, it seems like one shoddy race and it’s goodbye Daniil Kvyat. If he’s been demoted, then he might as well not be on the grid at all, one Tweet on my timeline said. It is fair to say that some have even been hasty to publish that his career is over already.
This whole matter highlights the ruthless reality of the pinnacle of motorsport, just in case we’d somehow forgotten how things can change in an instant. Typically brutal from Red Bull, but as much as it pains me to says this, will probably serve them better in the long run. Possibly, a bit of a tactically genius move…if it wasn’t cutting Daniil’s season with the team short! Red Bull have seen their chance, a slip-up that couldn’t have suited them better, and taken a leap.
So Mr. Christian Horner, do you still believe Kvyat is ‘the real deal’, or was your claim simply a slip of the tongue?
Either way, I for one firmly hope that Kvyat shines in his old/new environment. I think he deserves to.