“I don’t feel any ex­tra pres­sure”

Kvyat de­moted af­ter dif­fi­cult start to sea­son

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Rob Lad­brook Pho­tos: LAT

Teenager Max Ver­stap­pen in­sists he feels no ex­tra pres­sure head­ing into the Span­ish Grand Prix this week­end, de­spite re­ceiv­ing a sur­prise call-up to Red Bull to re­place the strug­gling Daniil Kvyat.

Red Bull con­firmed last week that it has opted to swap Kvyat with Dutch­man Ver­stap­pen with im­me­di­ate ef­fect af­ter a string of trou­bled per­for­mances this term for the Rus­sian.

Kvyat has en­dured two clashes with Se­bas­tian Vet­tel in suc­ces­sive grands prix and has strug­gled to match the pace of team-mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo. Kvyat will now step back to Toro Rosso to part­ner Spa­niard Car­los Sainz Jr.

The youngest driver ever to take part in F1, Ver­stap­pen, now 18, there­fore joins Red Bull Rac­ing hav­ing taken part in just 23 grands prix.

“I’m re­ally happy to be join­ing Red Bull, but a bit shocked as well,” said Ver­stap­pen. “I go [to the Span­ish GP] with no ex­pec­ta­tions. I wouldn’t say more pres­sure. I just want to adapt to the car, un­der­stand it bet­ter and see what my team-mate [Ric­cia­rdo] is do­ing be­cause the most im­por­tant thing is to score points. I just hope to feel com­fort­able in the car – I’ve never driven the RB12 be­fore, so we’ll find out how it is in Barcelona.”

Ver­stap­pen’s move to the top ta­ble is timely due to in­creas­ing in­ter­est in him from Fer­rari. The Scud­e­ria is eye­ing a re­place­ment for Kimi Raikko­nen for next sea­son and has been an ad­mirer of Ver­stap­pen. “I’ve al­ways been happy at Red Bull so I’ve never seen a rea­son to change,” added Ver­stap­pen. “This team is very com­pet­i­tive and I’m also a very com­pet­i­tive per­son, so hope­fully it’ll be a per­fect match.” Red Bull ad­vi­sor Dr Hel­mut Marko said the move was also made to dif­fuse some ris­ing ten­sions at Toro Rosso be­tween Ver­stap­pen and Sainz. The pair clashed over strat­egy at the Aus­tralian GP and have since had a frosty re­la­tion­ship. “There has been con­sid­er­able un­rest at Toro Rosso be­tween Max and Car­los, so we have solved sev­eral in­ter­nal prob­lems,” Marko told Mo­tor­sportTo­tal.com. “We have not re­moved Kvyat. He is still with us in the squad and Toro Rosso is a good mid­field team.

“This takes the pres­sure off Daniil. He has not been at the same per­for­mance this year. He has been three to five tenths [per lap] slower than Ric­cia­rdo. Last year he was at eye level.

“He has had ups and downs and been in­con­sis­tent and the crash at Sochi [with Vet­tel] was a con­se­quence of the in­ter­nal pres­sure he had built up him­self. It did not come from us.

“Ro­main Gros­jean was once in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion when he had crash af­ter crash. We wanted to avoid that, and our lux­ury is we have the abil­ity to set him up for Toro Rosso again.”

Kvyat has lost his Red Bull Rac­ing seat

Ver­stap­pen: pro­mo­tion

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