Daniil Kvyat will make a return to Formula 1 racing with Scuderia Toro Rosso, barely a year after the Russian driver was sacked from the Red Bull program over poor form.
With incumbent driver Pierre Gasly being promoted to Red Bull Racing next year as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement, the drinks company’s ‘B’ team is one of the few operations still with a vacancy in its driving line-up with Gasly and teammate Brendon Hartley’s seats theoretically up for grabs in the final cycle of the 2019 ‘silly season’.
Ironically, while Mercedes has two highly talented drivers on its books still without a Formula 1 seat for next year (in Esteban Ocon and George Russell), Red Bull’s own program lacks any drivers on its shortlist with the necessary qualifications for a super license.
In steps Kvyat, who will have his third spell with the Faenza team.
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, while a demotivated and at times outspoken Kvyat struggled with his demotion and was summarily outclassed by his less-experienced teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Poor form saw him benched for the Malaysian and Japanese Grands Prix while Toro Rosso blooded its new protégé Pierre Gasly, and despite picking up a points’ finish on his return in the United States he was fired from the Red Bull stable in the following week.
He found a lifeline at Ferrari as its development driver in 2017 but negotiated a release from the Italian team after being unable to secure a 2018 race seat.
“First of all, I would like to thank Red Bull and Toro Rosso for giving me this opportunity to race in Formula 1 again and I am particularly pleased to be returning to a team I know very well,” Kvyat said of his rehiring.
“Toro Rosso has always made me feel at home and I’m sure it will still be the same next season.
“I would also like to thank Ferrari for trusting my driving skills which allowed me to stay connected to F1 as their development driver. Even if my duties were primarily simulator based, I’ve learnt a lot, and I now feel stronger and better prepared than when I left Toro Rosso.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost expressed confidence that the team would benefit from a more mature approach from Kvyat upon his return.
“Daniil is a skilled driver with fantastic natural speed, which he has proven several times in his career,” he explained.
“There were some difficult situations he had to face in the past, but I’m convinced that having had time to mature as a person away from the races will help him show his undeniable capabilities on track.
“We’ll push very hard to provide him with a good package, and I feel the best is yet to come from his side.”
Images via Red Bull Content Pool