Daniil Kvyat has been released from Red Bull’s driver programme with immediate effect, Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has announced.
Once touted as a future star of the sport, Kvyat became the youngest Formula 1 driver in history when he made his full-time debut in 2014 as an 18-year-old, having won the previous year’s GP3 Series championship title.
After a solid rookie campaign, he was fast-tracked from Scuderia Toro Rosso into Red Bull Racing’s line-up in 2015 in the wake of Sebastian Vettel’s defection to Ferrari. He peaked with a second-placed finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix and finished seventh overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Despite claiming a podium at the following year’s Chinese Grand Prix, he quickly fell out of favour with Red Bull management and was demoted to Toro Rosso just one race later in a straight swap with Max Verstappen. The Dutch teenager would go on to win on his first appearance for Red Bull Racing.
A demotivated and outspoken Kvyat struggled through 2016 with just three lower-points’ finishes to his credit and has again been completely outperformed by teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. this year. Prior to the Spaniard being loaned to Renault ahead of the United States Grand Prix, Sainz Jr. had outscored Kvyat 48 points to 4.
After clumsily crashing out of the Singapore Grand Prix, Kvyat was benched for the following Malaysian and Japanese rounds in place of Red Bull protégé Pierre Gasly. It marked the first official sign that his seat was seriously under threat.
While he returned for Toro Rosso at the United States Grand Prix, a tenth-placed finish – only his third points’ finish of the year – was not enough to keep him.
“The season from Daniil this year was very unfortunate,” Tost explained. “There were a lot of technical problems which were not in the hands of Daniil, he couldn’t do anything.
“But he also made some driver errors. After Austin, he had five points. If you compare it with Carlos, although he was not racing with us in Austin, he had 54 points.
“Both parties lost confidence in each other. In such a situation, it’s better to … stop the cooperation and this gives Daniil the chance to look for another team and to look for his future.
“We felt the confidence was not there any more on the level you need if you are to work together successfully in the future. Both parties expected more and it didn’t happen. Therefore a termination is the best solution.”
When asked about Scuderia Toro Rosso’s driving line-up for 2018, Tost hinted that this weekend’s pairing of Gasly and Brendon Hartley – who was himself dropped from Red Bull’s F1 academy pipeline in 2010 – were the prime candidates.
“Both are Red Bull drivers, both are high-skilled drivers, and fast drivers,” Tost answered.
“We want to test them for the rest of the season, because there is a high possibility that this will be the driver line-up for 2018.”
Images via Red Bull Content Pool