Its happened, and earlier than we thought with Red Bull taking the unprecedented move of changing their lead driver line up during a season, let alone so early in the season with just four races completed.
We all kind of knew it was going to happen, just not this quickly with a view to 2017 and the new regulations on the horizon. However, Red Bull know they have a talent and are keen to retain him as their talent for 2018 and beyond, with his contract only currently up until the end next season.
With theories abound that Ferrari and Mercedes were circling, they can easily snap up a long term deal now for the Dutchman for him to take a race seat in 2018. Moving Verstappen to the big daddy team makes that look less likely, just as long as he can look respectable against his new and more experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
There is also of course the reality that he could even beat the Australian, which would be a monumental effort considering the little time he has had in the car. A racer is a race though, and he will soon adapt to the new surroundings and given that the Toro Rosso has been competitive at times has meant challenging at the front of the field won’t be alien to him.
It isn’t great news for young Kvyat though, who has been given a demotion to the Toro Rosso team. This is also quite unprecendated as Red Bull have a history of dismissing drivers completely if they are not up to the job. The problem they have this early in the season is their alternative drivers are already tied in for the season, including their current bright hope Pierre Gasly.
Spain will be an interesting test, not just for Verstappen against Ricciardo, but also for Carlos Sainz against Kvyat. The Spaniard at his home race will want to impress, if he doesn’t he could be in the firing line as well.
For Verstappen it is the start of the future, has that future come too soon? Only time will tell.