“He lost his speed and lightness.” Kvyat and Formula 1 parted again


The day after the completion of the youth tests, the Alpha Tauri team announced that they had signed a contract with Yuki Tsunoda. This means that there is no more room for Daniil Kvyat in the “royal races”. Let’s figure out why.

It can be argued for a long time that (or who) was the fault of the not very successful path that Kvyat’s career took at some point. The Red Bull bosses, too early raised yesterday’s junior to the very top, and then undermined his self-confidence by castling back with the “new Haymarket”. Or the inability of a Russian to work with Pirelli tires on one fast lap. Mentality. Personal life. There are many options. But if Daniel did not have good, strong races and speed, he would not have made more starts for “Toro Rosso” / “Alpha Tauri” than anyone else – 86. An experienced, good pilot, who, however, never and there were no other options in F-1. Even after a difficult breakup in 2017, they got back together.


“If it happens that this is my last season in F1, then you should look at it only from the positive side – with my 110th or how many races there were. Several podiums and confident races. Of course, this is not bad, but I always wanted to be able to fight for the championship. That is why I will always have more passion for what I do. I will always try to go back and get another chance. As my career shows, you can always have a chance again if you are in the right place at the right time. ” Indeed, there were three such moments in Kvyat’s life. First, the victory in the GP3 championship bought him time and helped him come a step earlier in the “royal races”, then the departure of Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari in 2015 and, finally, returning to Toro Rosso in 2019 after a one-year hiatus as a development pilot in Scuderia. Kvyat will probably always feel that he has some unfinished business in Formula 1 – so he thought while working with the Reds and thinks in the same way now, giving out his post-race interviews with a note of hope in voice that nothing is over yet and there will be a chance to return again.

Perhaps this non-standard development of the path in the “F1” was facilitated by the “Red Bull” system. In the Beyond The Grid podcast, Daniel spoke in the spring about Helmut Marko’s approach to the pupils of the youth system – the guys are always kept tight-lipped, but at the same time they offer different options for continuing their careers in the younger series. The pressure is pretty strong, but you get used to it over time. Probably, in Kvyat’s case, this was still not enough to create a steel character.

A great season at Toro Rosso in 2014 turned into a meteoric promotion to the senior team the following year. They believed in Kvyat – the head of Red Bull, Christian Horner, even called him “a future rising star” and “promising talent.” He was no weaker than his experienced team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and once even drove onto the podium, then repeating the achievement at the beginning of 2016, not without the help of a very brave overtaking Vettel. All conditions favored development and promotion – however, alas, Max Verstappen saw more talent, found an excuse (“torpedoing” Vettel in Sochi) and made castling. The conversation with Marco was not easy, but very clear – after it Daniel did not expect to come back. Only with the proviso that life is unpredictable and anything can happen. 


“I totally agree that Kvyat is more talented than Gasley and Hartley. Unfortunately, he only showed this in his first year with Toro Rosso and his first year with Red Bull. After that, the level of his performances dropped dramatically. He had problems with the brakes and tires that Ricciardo did not have. In short, something happened to him mentally. He lost his speed and lightness. We don’t know what it was. We tried a lot of things, but its speed simply does not return. Unfortunately, we have no idea what happened. There were so many incidents at the start of the races, and he did not respond well to them. He got into his sink and didn’t want anyone to tell him what to do. It’s sad because I remember the GP3 races in Monza and Spa, where he was head and shoulders above his rivals. ” Helmut Marko, December 2017

This situation, coupled with a too fast take-off (and an unexpected descent back), clearly did not allow Kvyat to return to the Toro Rosso with the same pilot that he “graduated” from. According to the Russian, this unsettled him a little, a reboot was needed. He never managed to recover mentally – this is evidenced by a considerable number of small collisions, and a complete loss to Sainz in 16-17 years (Daniel scored 8 points all the time, and Carlos, whom Kvyat was ahead of in the junior series, – 90), and a lag (or the inability to gather in qualification) from Pierre Gasly. For a season and a half of rivalry with him, Daniel scored only 42 points, the Frenchman – 107. Gasly, by the way, at one time (in 2019) found himself in a similar situation. But considered mentally weaker than other people from the “Red Bull”, Pierre, apparently, managed to regain faith in himself with greater ease. than Kvyat. It is not excluded that the matter is in the team, and the rigid methodology of the system does not teach the pilots to be stronger, but at some point simply crumbles.

Do not forget about your personal life – Daniel’s rather good return in 2019 can be easily associated with the joy of having a child. But all this was almost immediately overshadowed by, apparently, a difficult parting with Kelly Piquet, who finished off a slightly stabilized mental state and negatively affected his form last season.


Nevertheless, Kvyat will definitely be remembered by the F-1 spectators. Not only accidents that gave him the nickname Torpedo. There were also just strong performances. That there is only crazy Germany-2019 with the final third place or the recent Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna, when Daniel drove his “Alpha Tauri” to the fourth position. However, it is too late to escape from the Titanic – Marco noted that the performance in Imola was good, but “it will not help him in the future.” After such words in 2017, when the same Red Bull consultant reminded Kvyat that “it is not enough to hold one good race a year,” the Russian left the team’s location. 


Probably another reason why Daniel can no longer exist in the Red Bull system is the fanbase. It should be admitted that the international popularity of the Russian pilot is definitely lower than that of Gasly or even the same Alex Albon, and such a media team clearly needs a person who can lead fans. It is quite possible that one of the fastest F-2 riders of the past season, Tsunode, will be able to cope with this task much easier.

“Bulls” really need fresh blood – their system is so empty that a new partner for Verstappen has to be looked for on the side. Some of the old people must give way, and that someone was Kvyat. Again. There is a possibility that Daniel will again be able to prove himself as a development pilot – at Ferrari they were more than satisfied with his work and, perhaps, will be glad of him again. However, it is much more difficult to imagine how even such an opportunity can be turned into another return to the starting grid.

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