MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) — Red Bull demoted Russian driver Daniil Kvyat on Thursday and replaced him with Max Verstappen for the rest of the Formula One season, starting with next week's Spanish Grand Prix.
The 18-year-old Verstappen's promotion from feeder team Toro Rosso comes after Kvyat twice barged into Sebastian Vettel's car in Sunday's Russian Gran Prix, knocking him out of the race on the first lap.
''Max has proven to be an outstanding young talent. His performance at Toro Rosso has been impressive so far and we are pleased to give him the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing,'' Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in a statement. ''We are in the unique position to have all four drivers across Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso under long term contracts with Red Bull, so we have the flexibility to move them between the two teams.''
It is a big move for the teenage Dutch driver, the youngest to make his debut in F1 last season.
''The next step in my relatively short career so far is an amazing opportunity,'' Verstappen said on his official website. ''I'll have the chance to learn a lot from the top team that is Red Bull Racing. I'm also looking forward to work with an experienced and proven teammate like Daniel Ricciardo.''
Verstappen will have a seat fitting at the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes and acquaint himself with the RB12 in the simulator before heading to Barcelona for the Spanish GP, where he will swap teams with Kvyat.
Kvyat was also involved in another incident with Vettel at the Chinese GP.
Vettel spoke with Horner, his team principal when Vettel and Red Bull won four straight drivers' and constructors' championships from 2010-13, moments after being shunted off the track in Sochi.
''(Kvyat) will be able to continue his development at Toro Rosso, in a team that he is familiar with, giving him the chance to regain his form and show his potential,'' Horner said.
But it is a big blow to the 22-year-old Kvyat, who was signed to replace Vettel when he left Red Bull to join Ferrari last year.
Kvyat finished a commendable seventh last year - one place ahead of his more illustrious teammate, Ricciardo - and this season secured an impressive third place at the Chinese GP. But while his talent and his speed are not in doubt, his abrasive, high-risk style of driving has caught the headlines.
Vettel confronted him angrily after the Chinese GP, where Vettel collided with Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen after Kvyat tried an aggressive overtaking move on the first corner.
Kvyat did not apologize to Vettel, although he did after the Russian GP incident.
Verstappen is touted as a future star of the sport and is under contract until the end of 2017, with Mercedes and Ferrari both reportedly eager to sign him.