Daniil Kvyat believes that he would have finished higher in the Championship standings than Daniel Ricciardo this season had Red Bull not demoted him to Toro Rosso.
Kvyat lost his seat at Red Bull after the first four races of the season and was replaced by Max Verstappen, who had a dream debut when he became the youngest ever Formula 1 winner at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this month.
Last season, Kvyat finished seventh on the Formula 1 standings, three points ahead of Ricciardo. This season, though, the Russian was trailing Ricciardo by 15 points when he was switched to Toro Rosso.
Despite this, the 22-year-old firmly believes that he would have beaten Ricciardo for the second consecutive season if Red Bull had retained faith in him.
“The circumstances in which I approached Red Bull Racing [were that] the car was worse than the last year,” he told reporters. “It is easy for first year drivers at the time to look amazing.
“I believe the circumstances back then were not favourable but then they started to get better and better. The second half of the season for me at Red Bull Racing, it was good, stable.
“I was matching and beating Daniel, I scored more points than Daniel and it would have been the same this year again. All the things about a ‘too early’ approach are bulls**t.”
For the most part, Kvyat struggled to shine at Red Bull in 2016, with his lone strong performance coming at the Chinese Grand Prix where he secured his second career podium position after finishing third.
In addition to his podium in China, Kvyat failed to start in Australia, came seventh in Bahrain and 15th in Russia, a run he believes did not warrant a demotion to Toro Rosso.
“I was performing more than enough well,” he said. “I brought them the first podium of the year.
“Our pace was getting better and better. They got what they expected from me. That is all I can really say.
“So I think I did everything right, absolutely everything right.”