Russian teenage racer Daniil Kvyat has been announced as Jean-Éric Vergne’s teammate at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year.
The 19-year-old replaces the Red Bull Racing-bound Daniel Ricciardo, and will pilot the team’s STR9 challenger, which will be powered by Renault engines next year.
Kvyat’s signing comes as something of a surprise, especially with many considering that he was probably third in line for the seat behind fellow Red Bull junior drivers, António Félix da Costa and Carlos Sainz Junior.
Despite the immense promise that Félix da Costa showed last year, the Portuguese driver has had a disastrous 2013 campaign in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, while Sainz Jr has also failed to live up to his hype this year racing in the same championship and the GP3 Series.
Both will now have very uncertain futures ahead of them, and it would not be a surprise to see them cast aside and dropped entirely from the Red Bull development scheme.
Kvyat, meanwhile, has proven to be something more of a surprise performer, and he currently lies in second place in the GP3 Series, where he is Sainz Jr’s teammate. He has also shown frontrunning pace in the European Formula 3 Championship.
He had an opportunity to test with Toro Rosso during July’s ‘Young Drivers’ test at Silverstone, and also had a straight-line test hit-out with Red Bull Racing last week.
His performances have proven to be enough to get the green light from Red Bull’s chief advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, who handles all of the Red Bull junior drivers.
“This is fantastic news, a dream come true and I want to thank Red Bull and Toro Rosso for giving me this priceless opportunity,” Kvyat said in a media release issued by Toro Rosso.
“Ever since I began karting, I wanted to get to Formula 1 and now that wish will become reality next season.
“I had a brief taste of working with the Toro Rosso team, when I drove for them at the Silverstone test and I enjoyed the experience very much. The fact I am based in Italy and speak Italian will, I am sure, help me to become part of the team very quickly.”
“We are pleased to continue our policy of bringing on drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme. Daniil is a very talented driver, which can be seen from his results in all the junior categories,” Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost added.
“He impressed our team with a strong performance and very informative technical feedback at the young driver test in Silverstone. This suggests that the basic qualities from which he can progress are all in place. Daniil can be sure that we will use all our experience of training youngsters to give him the best possible start to his Formula 1 career.”
The team has also confirmed, as expected, that Vergne will be retained with the squad for a third year, where he will now assume the role of clear team leader within the Faenza-based squad.