BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — It was in a 20-minute call that interrupted his viewing of "Game of Thrones" that Daniil Kvyat found out he was being relegated from Red Bull to Toro Rosso only four races into the Formula One season.
Kvyat got the ax, just like many of the popular TV characters in "Thrones."
The young Russian driver said the news didn't keep him from going right back to the television series when he hung up the phone, but he admitted he was surprised to learn of his demotion, and being replaced by 18-year-old Max Verstappen.
"The decision in a way was a bit of a shock," Kvyat said on Thursday. "There was no real explanation to be honest. If the bosses want something to happen, they just make it happen. Simple as that."
The 22-year-old Kvyat said he felt he was doing a good job for Red Bull, and didn't think there was any reason for the team to make the switch.
"I feel like I've done everything for the team," said Kvyat, who finished third in China and was eighth in the drivers' standings ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. "I feel like I've been bringing the points, I've been bringing all the development work. We've been working well together."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said last week that the move was done to give Verstappen a new opportunity, and allow Kvyat to continue his development at feeder team Toro Rosso, where he will have "a chance to regain his form and show his potential."
The switch came just a few days after the Russian GP, where Kvyat was loudly criticized after twice hitting Sebastian Vettel from behind on the first lap. Vettel complained to Horner, but on Thursday he said he didn't think the accident played a significant role in Red Bull's decision, which he was told had already been made before the race.
Verstappen, sitting next to Kvyat in Thursday's press conference, said he was focused on making the most out of his chance.
"That's not up to me to say who deserved it or not," he said. "I'm happy with the chance they've given to me, and I will try to make the best of it."
The change surprised many in the paddock, including Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who noted that young drivers "need time to progress."
"Ultimately it's a good opportunity for one and for the other very unfortunate," Hamilton said. "Mistakes do happen, there's so much pressure on drivers, particularly at a young age. There's so much to learn. A lot of pressure on the shoulders to take a driver out of a role with a team where he's comfortable and move into another one. Do I agree with it? It doesn't really matter, but it's definitely not something I would particularly do."
Kvyat was looking forward to showing his worth in Barcelona.
"I've always been giving my answers on the track and nothing will change. I will try to give as loud an answer as possible on the track," he said. "I learned quite a lot in the last few days, last few weeks and it's made me very strong."