MATT JAMES AMES

“A high price to pay for one slip-up”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

So the up­ward tra­jec­tory of Max Ver­stap­pen con­tin­ues. He has been told by his Red Bull bosses that, from the Span­ish Grand Prix this week­end on­wards, he will be eat­ing at the top ta­ble along­side Daniel Ric­cia­rdo in the main team.

That is great news for Max, who has proved any doubters wrong and shown that, from the very first mo­ment he took part in a world cham­pi­onship grand prix in Aus­tralia at the age of 17 years and 166 days, he was wor­thy of such rapid pro­mo­tion from the Euro­pean F3 ranks.

While that switch will un­doubt­edly grab all of the head­lines in Catalunya this week­end, there have in­evitably been some ca­su­al­ties along the way in terms of their ca­reers; Daniil Kvyat and, to a lesser ex­tent, Car­los Sainz Jr.

Even Red Bull’s head of its driver devel­op­ment pro­gramme Dr Hel­mut Marko ad­mits that Toro Rosso is a “good mid­field team” in F1. Hardly loft praise and hardly the words to have Kvyat danc­ing in the street.

Kvyat’s crime, as far as I can see it, is one poor race in Rus­sia – he made a mis­take by col­lect­ing Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s Fer­rari, knew he had erred and held his hands up to it af­ter­wards. It all seems a bit harsh.

Yes there was con­tact be­tween Kvyat and Vet­tel in China too, but it is hard to fully ap­por­tion blame squarely to the Rus­sian. De­spite Vet­tel’s com­plaints, the four-time world cham­pion was not with­out fault in that in­ci­dent.

Ef­fec­tively, mov­ing Kvyat to Toro Rosso is ful­fill­ing his con­tract with Red Bull while shuf­fling him to­wards the exit door, no mat­ter what it has said.

And what of Sainz? Sure, he didn’t score as many points as Ver­stap­pen last sea­son but he wasn’t a mil­lion miles off in terms of pace. What next for him? If he trounces Kvyat, he will still be seen by his pay­mas­ters as not as good as Ver­stap­pen, oth­er­wise they would have cho­sen to pro­mote the Spa­niard above the Dutch­man to Red Bull.

If he loses out to Kvyat, the man who lost out to Ver­stap­pen, then that will be the exit door for him too.

There is no doubt that Kvyat and Sainz both have the abil­ity to suc­ceed at the top flight, but the Red Bull shuf­fling could have them both scratch­ing around for sportscar or Indycar drives be­fore ei­ther of them has reached the age of 23.

Sure, For­mula 1 is meant to be a harsh en­vi­ron­ment, but the golden prom­ises of a driver devel­op­ment scheme can some­times make that tough path al­most im­pos­si­ble to con­quer.

Kvyat has been booted out of the Red Bull team

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