Sebastian Vettel believes that Red Bull had decided to drop Daniil Kvyat in favor of Max Verstappen before his clash with the Russian two weeks ago in Sochi.
Red Bull announced last week that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso for the remainder of the season, with Verstappen moving in the opposite direction up to its senior F1 team.
The decision came in the wake of a disastrous Russian Grand Prix that saw Kvyat hit Vettel twice in two corners at the start of the race.
Speaking in Barcelona on Thursday, Vettel said he believes the decision to demote Kvyat was made in advance of this race, with their clash having nothing to do with the move.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with what happened in Sochi. As I learned, it has been decided already beforehand,” Vettel said.
“I don’t know what the reasons are for the swap, but I don’t think it’s related to Russia or in China.”
Vettel explained that Kvyat called him to explain the crash in Russia, with the German brushing it off as a racing mistake.
“The last race is not the best example for Daniil but, unlike some of his colleagues, he had the balls to give me a call in the afternoon and to tell me what happened from his point of view,” Vettel said.
“He realized he made a mistake and that’s the end of the story. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“Of course, I was very upset and disappointed in the first place because it ruined my race, but these things happen. There is no guarantee that I won’t have a misjudgement here on Sunday, in two weeks, in a year, in five years if I’m still around.
“Mistakes happen. Of course, with experience, they tend to happen less, but this is why we are here. We are all pushing to the limit. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.”