Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen’s promotion from Toro Rosso has killed off the driver market with regard to his Formula 1 stars.
Horner has confirmed with Verstappen swapping seats with Daniil Kvyat, the 18-year-old Dutchman has committed himself to Red Bull “for multiple years.” With new teammate Daniel Ricciardo under contract until the end of 2017, it means the Australian and Verstappen are now off limits to rival teams.
“Max Verstappen, make no mistake about it, he is one of the hottest properties in Formula 1 at this point in time,” said Horner. “So it’s only natural other teams will be showing interest in a driver that is demonstrating his kind of ability and talent. This move also kills off the driver market regarding Red Bull drivers, certainly for the foreseeable future.”
Horner has made clear it was not just the first-lap errors made by Kvyat during his home grand prix at the start of this month that led to his demotion.
Horner has suggested Kvyat had been “struggling for form compared to his teammate,” and that there had been “a consistent pattern.”
Asked whether being elevated to the senior team was a step too soon for Verstappen, Horner replied: “Certain people said it was too early when he came in [to F1] at 16. But he has proven to be one of the most exciting things currently about Formula 1. He has demonstrated he has a great amount of natural talent and ability, that he can overtake and race.
“He’s an awful lot to learn, but he’s got a very mature head on young shoulders, and everything I have seen of his development so far has impressed me enormously. That curve will continue.”
Horner also sees no cause for alarm regarding Verstappen’s flashes of teenage tempestuousness that occurred while at Toro Rosso, causing issues between himself and teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
“We’ve had difficult relationships between our drivers before, it’s nothing new,” said Horner. “You tend to get that when you’ve two quick drivers. I don’t see it being an issue. He’s growing as a young driver, but also as a young man as well, and as he gains more experience his outlook is going to change on certain things.
“But you can see his absolute desire burning within him at the moment, his competitiveness, this huge amount of talent. He is going up against one of the very best drivers in Formula 1, a benchmark that is Daniel Ricciardo. The way Daniel is driving at the moment I don’t think there is a better driver in Formula 1, so the thought of the pairing is fantastically exciting for us.”