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F1: Verstappen replaces Kvyat at Red Bull

The teenager is promoted as the Russian is punished for a calamitous home GP

Red Bull have confirmed that 18-year-old Max Verstappen will replace Daniil Kvyat for the remainder of the F1 season following the latter’s terrible weekend at the Russian Grand Prix.

Kvyat – who was blameless in an incident that forced Sebastian Vettel to collide with teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the Chinese GP – hit the German from behind twice in the space of two corners at the last race in Sochi.

Daniel Ricciardo also sustained damage as a result of that crash, costing him, Vettel and Kvyat any chance of points as opponents scored heavily.

Ultimately, the mistake has also cost the young Russian his place at the most successful F1 team of the last decade.

In a short statement on Red Bull’s website, Christian Horner confirmed that teenager Max Verstappen – whose potential is universally admired – will be promoted from Toro Rosso with Kvyat moving in the other direction.

“Max has proven to be an outstanding young talent,” said Horner. “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.”

Still only 22, Kvyat has plenty of time to get his career back on course, but this mid-season demotion will feel like a humiliating setback nonetheless.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the young Russian was celebrating his second career podium in Shanghai.

The decision may be motivated in part by Red Bull’s desperation to keep Max Verstappen away from admiring rivals like Mercedes and Ferrari, both of whom have reportedly shown an interest in signing the Dutch prodigy.

In reality Verstappen is under contract until the end of 2017 anyway, but having said that he wants to challenge for podiums next season, Red Bull may have used this situation as an opportunity to prevent their starlet from engineering a move elsewhere.

As such, Verstappen will share a garage with Daniel Ricciardo at the next race in Spain in just over a week’s time. It will be only his 24th appearance in a grand prix.

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