Daniil Kvyat admits that the jump for him in F1 was quick and that he was left confused due to lack of experience but he feels 2019 was better and now he is a complete driver.
As Kvyat stepped out of his AlphaTauri car at the end of the Abu Dhabi GP, the Russian did so equipped with the knowledge that the race could well have been his last in F1, capping off a quicksilver career spent exclusively within the Red Bull programme.
In his debut season in F1 2014 with Toro Rosso, he came up short of his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, but with Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull departure announced for 2015, the Russian would be promoted to the top team instead of the Frenchman.
After spending 2015 with Red Bull and outperforming teammate Daniel Ricciardo, he stayed with the team in 2016, until Max Verstappen’s meteoric ascension of the Red Bull driver system meant Kvyat would be demoted to Toro Rosso after the Russian GP that year.
The demotion delivered a blow to his confidence, and his results suffered in late 2016. This trend continued in 2017, and he would be in and out of his Toro Rosso seat for the tail end of that F1 season, before spending 2018 on the sidelines as Ferrari sim driver.
A return in F1 2019 was positive, as was a further season at AlphaTauri in 2020. As was expected, however, it was announced that Kvyat would be replaced by the Honda-backed Yuki Tsunoda. The announcement confirmed, at least temporarily, that the Russian would be out of an F1 seat for the second time.
Upon reflection of his F1 career to date, Kvyat says that his rushed experience in his first stint in the sport motivated him to change his approach in his 2019-2020 tenure. “After my first stint in F1 I didn’t even understand really what happened,” he said to media including F1, Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, BBC, AMuS and more.
“I came after GP3, so I missed the step before Formula 1, not missed, but that was a decision that was taken at the time. So I went to Toro Rosso, had a strong year in Toro Rosso at the time and then immediately promoted to Red Bull Racing after one year. Then I also had a strong season with Red Bull Racing there. Then we all know what happened.
“And then I had a couple of tough years. I think I always lacked a bit of experience in F1 actually, because everything happened so fast. And when I came back last year in 2019 I just took a very different approach. Not that I forgot everything what I’ve been doing before but I just started from a very fresh page in a way a bit like a rookie again.
“But I managed to learn new things and also this year I managed to feel a lot of progress. It was very interesting year,” explained Kvyat, who feels that his modified approach made him a more “complete” driver. “I think, all in all last two years were very competitive.
“And I’m a lot more complete only in these last two years in Formula 1, and only now I feel like I’m ready for, you know, to drive always on a high level. And also, if opportunity would come with a top team now it would be, you know, a different story,” said Kvyat.
The Russian feels his best chance at an F1 return will come in 2022, when new regulations will mean an experienced driver is needed. He asserts that he maintains the ability to perform. “I’m not in the sport next year in F1, [and] ideally 2022 would be the logical year to come back also, because there are new regulations and teams needs experience.
“And I can assure you that experience is actually quite important, especially when new regulations comes to play. I would be doing my best of course to come back, because I feel like I have a lot to give to the sport. I found the very tough competition from Pierre this year, also. And of course his win overshadowed a lot, anything good I did this year.
“But it’s normal. You know, because he did a fantastic race. But all in all I feel like I’m a lot more complete driver now and even when the pressure is very high around me and my future I’m still able to perform more than 100% which in the past has been a bit of a problem for me,” summed up Kvyat, who is managed by Nicolas Todt.
Here’s stats difference from 2019 to 2020