Red Bull move for Verstappen was always likely

Thu May 5, 2016 8:18am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Max Verstappen's sudden promotion to Red Bull will be considered as a slap in the face for Daniil Kvyat, the man he replaces, but it has more to do with the Dutch driver's potential than the Russian's failings.

Verstappen, 18, caused a sensation when he came into Formula One with Toro Rosso last season -- after being signed as a 16-year-old -- and is now considered a future champion.

At last year's International Automobile Federation (FIA) gala prize giving he won awards for rookie, personality and action of the year.

Such talent does not go unnoticed by rivals and Verstappen had been already linked to Toro Rosso's engine partners Ferrari who have Kimi Raikkonen, 37 in October, out of contract at the end of the year.

The word on the paddock grapevine was that Verstappen would be free to go elsewhere if Red Bull did not give him a race seat at the main team for the third year of his current contract.

"I know what contract I have. I am very positive also for next year," the teenager told Reuters in March.

"I am very happy with Red Bull, I know what the perspective is for next year and the years after," he added. "Happy to be at Toro Rosso for the moment and to learn more. Then we’ll see next year where we are."

Germany's Sebastian Vettel, who won four successive world championships with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013 and is now at Ferrari, made his debut for BMW-Sauber as a stand-in at the 2007 U.S. Grand Prix.   Continued...

Formula One - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi, Russia - 30/4/16 - A spectator looks at a flag with the picture of Red Bull F1 driver Daniil Kvyat of Russia. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool