May 6 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Max Verstappen insists he is not feeling the heat of his sudden promotion to Red Bull’s senior F1 team.
That is despite the fact Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s notorious driver manager, said Russian Kvyat has been demoted because he was not coping with the pressure of trying to keep up with the on-form Daniel Ricciardo.
But Dutchman Verstappen said: “I wouldn’t say (it’s) more pressure to be honest.
“Of course I’m driving for a top team now, but in the end you always try to do your best,” he told verstappen.nl. “For me, I don’t feel more pressure.”
One interpretation is that the Verstappen camp – involving the 18-year-old’s famous father Jos – actually pushed for the mid-season promotion, as a way to improve contractual terms amid the obvious interest of Ferrari and Mercedes.
“To be honest, I was always very happy at Red Bull,” Max insists. “I never saw reason to change and of course with this opportunity there is no reason to change so I’m happy to be here.”
Less happy is 22-year-old Kvyat, who entered F1 as a teenager straight out of GP3 in 2014 and lasted just over one season at Red Bull’s top team.
Marko said the Russian struggled with the pressure.
“There were not just two incidents that led us to this decision but also the rest of the races, where Kvyat was inconsistent,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He’s suffering too much pressure and we believe sending him to Toro Rosso is the right move for him to regain the necessary peace of mind.
“He is a talented guy, still young and he will be able to rebuild. He is lucky because, thanks to the fact that we have two teams and we can rotate the drivers, we have not given him a kick in the pants that would mean the end of his adventure in F1,” Marko added.
Indeed, Kvyat still has plenty of backers. Jenson Button publicly and immediately questioned the demotion, and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff also thinks Kvyat deserves to be in F1.
“He is a very fast boy,” Wolff told Russia’s Tass news agency. “He deserves his place in formula one as we saw in Shanghai, aside from the fact that he is a really nice character.”
“If he continues to drive like he does, he is a candidate for everybody because he is quick,” he added.