Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 2017

Why Red Bull gave Kvyat (yet) another chance

2019 F1 season

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Daniil Kvyat’s return to Toro Rosso for the 2019 F1 season had been heavily hinted at in the week’s leading up to the move. So when the news broke on the morning of qualifying for his home race it caught few by surprise.

But Kvyat’s reappearance at the team following the circumstances of his departure last year was not at all expected before the rumours began to surface earlier this year. After all, he hadn’t exactly covered himself in glory during his first stint.

Kvyat’s first return to Toro Rosso came in 2016 after he was ejected from his Red Bull seat just four races into the new season in favour of Max Verstappen. It was a blow he never really recovered from. Carlos Sainz Jnr, who Kvyat had beaten while team mates earlier in his career, easily showed him the way.

In 2017 Red Bull Junior Team boss Helmut Marko decided to give Kvyat a stay of execution at Toro Rosso rather than promote the team’s newly-crowned GP2 (now F2) champion Pierre Gasly in his place. Yet Kvyat’s results did not improve and he was dropped before the season’s end. By the time Red Bull finally showed him the door, Sainz had out-scored him by 90 points to eight during their two part-seasons together.

Fast-forward almost a year and Red Bull has released Sainz to join McLaren (after loaning him to Renault for a year) while Kvyat, the driver he thrashed so comprehensively, is being welcomed back. On the fact of it the move is utterly illogical.

Red Bull, however, have no choice. Daniel Ricciardo’s departure opened the door for Gasly to graduate to the top team. The knock-on effects of Verstappen’s rapid promotion has left their junior scheme depleted – they have no drivers with sufficient superlicence points to race for them in 2019.

RaceFans understands Sainz made it clear that, following his move to Renault, he would not accept a return to Toro Rosso. He had already started 56 races for the junior squad, more than any driver bar Jean-Eric Vergne (58). This prompted his exit from Red Bull and led the team to reconsider Kvyat, who’s kept his eye in with a year as Ferrari’s simulator driver.

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Kvyat’s nationality makes him an attractive prospect for the team as well. There are rumours his place at Toro Rosso come with prospective backing from a Russian renewable energy company.

Start, Sochi, 2016
Kvyat’s Red Bull stint ended after this crash
Having already started 51 races for the team, Kvyat is set to become their long-serving driver next year. This despite originally leaving the team for Red Bull after a single season with them.

But Toro Rosso’s appetite for new talent remains insatiable. The team made it clear on Saturday Kvyat is returning to replace Gasly. Nothing was said about the position of Brendon Hartley,whose place at the team is believed to be in doubt.

Asked by RaceFans on Thursday whether Marko felt he deserved to keep his place at the team, Hartley said: “He knows from the team what the real stories are behind the scenes and how I’m working with the team, how I’ve progressed through the season.

“I also bring a lot of experience. Regardless of the actual points finish I am strong and I’ve kept my head I’m sure before the end of the season I’ll have some more points finishes. I just need one good race to go my way.”

However Marko made it clear to Sky during final practice what Hartley must do to stand a chance of keeping his seat: “Beat Gasly. He knows it.”

Hartley got a second chance. Kvyat is getting at least a third chance. The question now is where will Red Bull look to find the latter’s team mate.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Why Red Bull gave Kvyat (yet) another chance”

  1. I know it’s totally out of their philsophy, programme and whatnot, and it would be the most out-of-their-own call, but is it really so hard to give a chance to Kubica? Just give him half a season to impress and then send him out for the next youngster. But, please.

    1. Less outlandish than you’d think. Marko said a few weeks ago that they were looking at three drivers – Gio, Kvyat, and Kubica. Two of the three have now been confirmed, so it seems to me like it depends on if they want to keep Hartley..

  2. If they were to drop Hartley then hopefully Wehrlein would then get the second STR-drive.

    1. @jerejj, why is there so much enthusiasm for Wehrlein? His record in junior series isn’t especially impressive, and his qualifying performance against Ericsson was rather underwhelming (especially when you take the weight advantage Wehrlein had over Ericsson), and it isn’t as if Ericsson was regarded that highly.

      1. @anon Yes, he didn’t exactly destroy Ericsson although he still outscored and yet still was the one who had to make way for Leclerc for this season. Furthermore, I also think that he deserves another chance more than Kvyat does, so since Kvyat is going to get yet another chance then so should he as well.

  3. Red Bull had a lot of youngsters in their program, and most of them were above average, some even top notch.

    All who were droped from the team did well in their next categories WEC, FE, etc.

    Even Kvyat, while he did poorly after his peak, there was a time when he was as fast as Daniel Ricciardo. How many drivers can claim that?

    At what time was Ericcson/Vandorne/Wherlein this good?

    Only driver without a seat I can think off, that is better is Ocon. If they can pry him out of Mercedes contract, that would be great.

    1. If he was as fast as Ricciardo, it was for a race or two, tops.
      It’s easy to look at their results on the one full season they did together to say he was on par with Daniel, but he wasn’t. He was much luckier with reliability and got way less penalties for new parts than Daniel did.

      Verstappen was a much stronger team mate right out of the box.

      1. Errr, I disagree. In 2015 Ricciardo had 2 DNFs while Kvyat had 3. So saying he got lucky is just incorrect. He had 1 race less to score point yeat managed to get more of them.

        1. Look for the reason why he DNF. I remember him wrecking the car at COTA.

          Also, look for where the guys were running when the car failed. Ricciardo lost two fourth places at Russia and Belgium. Kvyat lost little points, if any.

          And races like Interlagos Ricciardo started from the back, Kvyat didn’t.

          1. Yes, I can confirm what ed said: just like in 2017 for verstappen and ricciardo, 6 DNF from verstappen’s further ahead places lost him more points than 7 for ricciardo, it’s also about what places you lose and are the dnf out of your control? You should pay for mistakes ofc.

  4. Can I play Devils Advocate and ask exactly how bad was Kvyat when he drove for Red Bull. I seem to remember him getting a podium a race or two before he was dropped. Was he really not performing or was he dropped because somebody growled about him in Helmut Marko’s ear

    1. He wasn’t slow, just hard-headed and inconsistent in the races. Not a good way to win championships.

      1. @david-beau not as inconsistent and hot head as Max is now. Probably it was more of a personal relationship thing with Marko.

        1. Max was much better than him right from the start.
          In fact, Max was on way to a great 6th place on the very same race where Kvyat took Vettel and Ricciardo out of contention, but the car failed.

          Even with a Toro Rosso he was more than a match for what Kvyat was doing at Red Bull.

  5. They gave Hartley a second chance, and Kvyat a third, but Buemi and Vergne had 1 and they were completely out and never considered again. It’s not that Kvyat or Hartley deserve more chances, it’s that Red Bull has no other option.

    If they keep Brendon alongside Danil for next year, they are basically making the numbers next year, or doing development work for Red Bull’s gain, because the purpose of Toro Rosso is to give young drivers seat time before they go to Red Bull and we all know neither Brendon nor Kvyat are going to do that.

    Either that or they already know they are going to sell that team to someone else and they are not bothering anymore

  6. I’m really pleased to see Kvyat coming back. Back when he started in Toro Rosso he was brilliant to watch, and that first year at Red Bull was alright despite a disappointing car and outscored Ricciardo. Kinda felt his demotion was a bit harsh and it seemed to hugely dent his confidence as he seemed to either go over the limit and crash or was just anonymous. Kinda felt the guy – like Magnussen or Perez, could probably benefit from a different environment to get the best out of him as it was clearly there, just forgotten – not lost.

    I tend to agree with criticisms that other promising drivers like Buemi, Alguersuari and Vergne didn’t get as many chances as Kvyat and they were all as potentially good as him, and that as a ‘new driver’ team hiring a driver you dropped twice goes against that logic, but I still think it’s a good choice for Toro Rosso. I suppose in the ‘perfect’ world of Formula One I kinda like seeing someone that’s failed horribly get another chance to prove people wrong and come back stronger – I’d like to see Kvyat silence a few doubters. Also as Red Bull largely fired all their juniors they have nobody else to put in the car.

    Also somewhat cruelly, I think the 3rd coming of Kvyat is still going to be quicker than Hartley who’s so far never looked quick. Personally I’d like to see Wehrlein, Ocon (if Mercedes will let other people play with their toys) or Kubica get the second seat.

  7. Q. Why Red Bull gave Kvyat another chance?
    A. Desperation

    All this decision does is highlight how bad the Red Bull young driver program has been at decision making over the past few years.
    They literally have no viable options left on their books. Even Buemi as RB 3rd driver wouldn’t cone back for anything other than a drive with the 1st team.

    Surely now they have Kvyat as their ‘known quantity / reference point ‘, they’ve got to go for someone other thsn Hartley, otherwise what’s the point in Kvyat?

  8. Red Bull is completely nowhere with their junior program.
    Two guys who were completely out of the picture were brought back mostly because they’ve got no one else to put there.
    Their duo for next year tends to be Hartley and Kvyat.

    Could be Vergne too, but he probably would only take an offer from the main team.
    Kinda unfair considering that guys like Felix da Costa never had their shot.

  9. Quite pleased to see him back actually. Was very impressive in his first year at Toro Rosso and I felt at Red Bull as well. Slightly behind Ricciardo (although he did of course outscore him) but not bad for his first year with the team. Showed flashes of brilliance too, especially in Mexico where he was robbed of a podium, and in Austin before he crashed. For one reason or another – I’d suspect related to the mental side of things – in 2016 he never got going. But there’s a lot of potential and ability there that hopefully he can show this time. I think the time out will have done him good.

  10. Alex Albon. Young, Thai, has been part of the Red Bull family previously, driving well in F2.
    Makes a lot of sense on results alone, plus it gets RB out of a bind with an actual young driver who has a career ahead, instead of having two mid-career drivers…

    1. And yes I know he has a FE seat. There has to be some finagling possible to get him into Toro rosso.
      I don’t see why they wouldn’t at least try.

  11. Red Bull’s program seems to burn most of the young drivers that it uses. I felt Kvyat got a supremely raw deal from them. First podium and gone within a few races in favor of Verstappen, who I’m not convinced has shown any better results than Kvyat would have. I’m glad to see him back and let’s hope he gets another chance to stand down Seb in a cool down room in the near future!

    “If I keep going the same line, we crash.”
    “Don’t keep going.”

  12. Bring back Jean-Éric Vergne – he had none of the luck but plenty of speed, and is a mature driver now. Far better bet than Kvyat who went backwards. If it had been appreciated at the time how good Ricciardo was – able to step up and beat Vettel – he’d be seen in quite a different light.

  13. They want Russian investments, it’s as simple as that.

  14. F1 well known for a variety of “smoke screens”!
    But! This one takes the biscuit!

    Of course, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Russian energy giants “possible” financial backing??!!
    Dr Marko?! Pull the other one sir!!

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