Christian Horner has explained the reasons behind the swapping of Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen between Red Bull and Toro Rosso and feels with the Dutch teenager partnering Daniel Ricciardo he has potentially the strongest driver combination on the grid for future seasons.
The Red Bull team principal says the squad has undergone detailed and lengthy analysis on the performance of all of its drivers and says promoting Verstappen above Kvyat ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix was important to give him enough time to adapt to the car and team.
Horner saw the switch as key to secure Verstappen's long-term future with potential suitors Ferrari mooting an interest in the Dutch star while also securing a potent driver line-up over the next couple of seasons.
“I think you always want to put your best foot forward and have the most competitive driver lineup you can possibly have,” Horner said. “A Ricciardo-Verstappen line-up, for me, potentially is one of, if not the, strongest pairing of future years.
“Of course that depends on how things pan out and develop, and with the regulation change coming for next year and with power units hopefully converging, that provides some great opportunities for this team over the next couple of seasons.
“Make no mistake about it, Verstappen's one of the hottest properties in Formula One at this present time. It's only natural that other teams will show interest in a driver that's demonstrating his kind of ability and talent. I think this move also kills off the driver market regarding Red Bull drivers, certainly for the foreseeable future.”
After securing Verstappen for 'multiple years' Horner also shrugged off the suggestion he's too young and inexperienced to be stepping up to a championship contender and feels his exploits wit Toro Rosso in his rookie F1 season and the opening four races this year act as sufficient evidence he is ready for the switch.
“Certain people said it was too early when he came in at 16,” he explained. “I think he's proved to be one of the most exciting things about Formula One currently in the paddock.
“He's demonstrated he's got a great amount of natural talent, a great natural ability, he can overtake and he can race. He's got an awful lot to learn but he's got a very mature head on young shoulders and certainly everything I've seen about his development has impressed me enormously. I think that curve will continue.”