Daniil Kvyat: Red Bull ‘stabbed me in the back’ with Max Verstappen switch

Sam Cooper
Daniil Kvyat in Red Bull apparel. Shanghai, China. April 2016.

Daniil Kvyat in Red Bull apparel. Shanghai, China. April 2016.

Daniil Kvyat believes he was “stabbed in the back” by Red Bull when he lost his seat to Max Verstappen.

After just four races of the 2016 season, Kvyat was demoted back to Toro Rosso to make way for Verstappen just a year after the Russian had been given the Red Bull seat.

It came after just one podium finish in his first year with the team and although he secured P3 in China, a 15th place finish in his home GP meant the writing was on the wall.

Verstappen’s first race with the team is well documented with the Dutchman becoming the youngest driver ever to win an F1 race and from the off, Red Bull have had no reason to regret their decision.

But it was the manner of the move that most hurt Kvyat who, seven years later, said it felt like a “stab in the back” from his team.

“I felt really betrayed at that moment,” he told the Track Limits podcast. “It was a stab in the back and that’s life, you get stabbed in the back sometimes you know, it’s normal.

“Now it’s the past. I have another good career in racing so part of me of course is very thankful to Red Bull. The other part of me is still very unhappy with it.”

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What made it worse was Kvyat had only just rejected an offer to move to Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen and he went from being wanted by two of the sport’s biggest teams to without a seat in the space of just over a year.

“I was performing really well,” he said. “And I just scored another podium for the team [at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix] and then at the time I had also a proposal to race for Ferrari to replace Kimi. That was going on behind the curtain.

“So it was a very difficult situation also for me mentally to go back from being wanted by Ferrari and having seen the contract and then you go back to Toro Rosso suddenly and then you’re like, it’s not going very well suddenly.”

Kyvat went on to race in NASCAR and is currently competing in the WEC for Prema Racing while Verstappen continues to drive for Red Bull, vindicating their decision with 2021 and 2022 title wins.

Despite operating in similar circles for an extended period of time, the pair never actually raced as team-mates.