[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] TORO ROSSO: KVYAT’S CHALLENGE

One of the biggest stories of 2018 was the announcement of Daniil Kvyat’s return for next season at Toro Rosso, and the Russian has already begun his preparation for the task…

…with the 24-year-old reuniting with the team at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, taking part in the post-season Pirelli tyre test.

For Kvyat, 2019 is a final chance to impress at the pinnacle of motorsport, and marks his third return to Red Bull’s B-team – since the opening season of F1’s hybrid era in 2014.

Kvyat rose to prominence as a member of the Red Bull Junior Team from 2012, winning that year’s Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS title and backing it up with the GP3 championship.

The Russian then jumped straight to F1 for 2014, though was at a smaller disadvantage doing that with the start of the turbo-hybrid era taking everyone back to zero. But, he felt ready for the challenge, racing alongside teammate Jean-Éric Vergne… 

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIIL KVYAT,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“Yes, I am. I mean, now after so many things happened after the announcement, I won the GP3 title. So it’s been a really positive step for me, and now yes I’m only focused on the Formula 1 for next year and can’t wait.”

In that debut year, Kvyat proved his raw pace with 10-9 in qualifying, and outqualified Vergne in eight of the last 12 races... While the Frenchman had the upper hand in the races, and on points, 22 to 8.

But it was enough to see Kvyat promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing for the following year – the Russian dancing after Vergne was looked over for the second-straight year. But, he denied there was added pressure on him to deliver at the brand’s top team… against Daniel Ricciardo.

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIIL KVYAT,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“Well, theoretically, yes there is more pressure on me. But on the other side, I don’t really care about it so much. Just, try to, once again, focus on the right things, just thinking about the results and the work on the track.”

And while Kvyat was just ahead of Ricciardo in the races, when they could be compared, and scored three more points, the Australian beat him 12-7 in qualifying, destroying his confidence… 

2016 was a fresh start, but a series of crashes and Max Verstappen’s push for a long-term contract saw Kvyat return to Toro Rosso from Spain; a demotion he never really recovered from.

… especially after the Dutchman won on debut in what was Kvyat’s car.

The Russian partnered with Sainz for 2017, but the writing was on the wall – with the Spaniard outperforming him from the outset. The US Grand Prix his last race as Toro Rosso experimented with its driver line-up.

Kvyat has since rebuilt his confidence and part of his reputation, with a Ferrari development role, testing options in the simulator but hasn’t raced in any major category since Austin last year.

To stay in F1 beyond 2019, he’ll need to destroy his newly confirmed teammate, F2 young gun Alexander Albon – who will become the first Thai driver on the F1 grid since Prince Bira in 1955.

… and for whom Kvyat will be the pace benchmark for future seasons at the pinnacle of motorsport.

It’s a big challenge ahead, and one that Kvyat can master – as long as he remains cool under pressure, just doing what he does best. Going fast, with minimal fuss and fanfare.

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIIL KVYAT,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“You just go there and do your job, improve yourself, [and] just think, focus on yourself and it should be enough.”