Eyebrows were raised around the paddock when Toro Rosso announced last September that they would be bringing Daniil Kvyat back to the team after he spent over a year in the Formula One wilderness. But 11 races into the 2019 season, it seems to be the right choice.
Toro Rosso found themselves on an F1 podium for the first time in 11 years on Sunday, as Kvyat took advantage of a dramatic German Grand Prix to finish third.
What made Kvyat’s podium all the more extraordinary was that it came from him starting 14th on the grid, with the Russian even sitting as low as 19th in the early stages of the race.
But he kept his nerve, stayed confident and showed impressive pace in the final laps to nip ahead of Lance Stroll and clinch his third-ever podium.
Kvyat’s stunning finish was the Red Bull feeder team’s second podium in history after a young Sebastian Vettel clinched victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
Remarkably, 25-year-old Kvyat wasn’t even involved in the sport last year after being dropped, joining Ferrari as a development driver, only to make his return this campaign after Red Bull called to fill a vacancy at Toro Rosso.
His recall represented a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for someone whose career appeared over not too long ago.
The Ufa native was relegated from Red Bull in May 2016 for Max Verstappen and, after joining Toro Rosso, was dropped towards the end of the 2017 campaign after scoring just five points to Carlos Sainz’s tally of 54 during the time they were team-mates.
However, right now, Kvyat is looking as strong as any one of the midfield drivers as he attempts to solidify his position in the sport for the long haul – whether that is at Toro Rosso or another side.
One only needs to look at his results this season to highlight his classy form, sitting eighth in the drivers standings on 27 points, with his stunning podium in Germany adding to other formidable displays in Barcelona, Monaco and Silverstone.
In contrast, his rookie team-mate Alexander Albon lies 15th on 15 points.
Could Kvyat’s consistent performances mean a potential promotion to Red Bull in 2020?
Pierre Gasly’s inability to match the pace of team-mate Verstappen since his switch from Toro Rosso for this season has sparked rumours about his future with the Milton Keynes outfit.
While Albon could be an option for Red Bull, it is unlikely he would get the nod for next year as a potential replacement, especially if Christian Horner and Co firmly believe that Gasly was promoted too quickly.
That would, in effect, leave Kvyat as the most likely candidate to move up, having already gained previous experience at Red Bull during the 2015 campaign and for the first four races of the 2016 season.
In saying that, his return may only be a short-term fix, but could present a long-term opportunity for Kvyat himself.
If he can continue to perform strongly for the rest of the campaign, opportunities may present themselves elsewhere on the grid.
His F1 experience would be viewed highly at teams such as Haas or Alfa Romeo, while Toro Rosso works to build its pool of young talent once more.
Rising stars Dan Ticktum and Patricio O’Ward are often name-checked as future Toro Rosso or Red Bull drivers and it could only be a matter of time before they get a run.
If, however, there is a change, it is unlikely Kvyat will make way. His display in Hockenheim is a huge statement, and proof that his latest chance in F1 is well deserved.
Max Verstappen won a chaotic rain-hit German Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton crashed while on course for victory.
Hamilton crashed from the lead of the race while Valtteri Bottas’ afternoon ended in the wall following a late spin.
Dutchman Verstappen finished ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who fought back from last, and Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.
“As soon as I was ahead of the Mercedes cars, you could really see the pace I had because I was just pulling away quite comfortably with saving tyres,” he said.
“So, yeah, today was very good and we stayed mostly out of trouble. So of course, (I am) very happy to win it.”
Team principal Toto Wolff compared Mercedes’ capitulation at their home German Grand Prix to Armageddon.
Lewis Hamilton crashed from the lead of the race while Valtteri Bottas’ afternoon ended in the wall following a late spin.
Mercedes, Formula One’s all-conquering team, have been celebrating their 200th race and 125 years of motorsport at Hockenheim this weekend, with team personnel dressing in retro clothing to honour the landmark events.
The German car manufacturer’s president Ola Kallenius was in attendance for the first time as boss, while Netflix has also been following Mercedes’ every move for the second series of Formula One’s fly-on-the-wall documentary, “Drive to Survive.” Mercedes controversially declined to take part in the first season.
“This shows that you shouldn’t fool around with stuff, and that you should concentrate on the job,” said Wolff, seemingly in reference to the team’s period costumes.
“We are not superstitious but we believe in karma. Maybe you get distracted, and maybe you do things differently to how you would normally do them.
“We were celebrating 125 years here, the board are here, and all the Netflix guys are here.
“It was a terrible day for us. With Valtteri crashing out, it ended in an Armageddon weekend for us.”
Hamilton pointed the finger of blame at Mercedes for wrongly switching him from wet tyres to slicks. He crashed on his first lap out of the pits.
With Hamilton way down the order, Bottas, whose future beyond this season is uncertain, should have salvaged second.
But the Finn hit the wall in the closing stages after losing control of his Mercedes at the opening bend.
The TV cameras cut to a furious Wolff who banged both fists on his desk.
Despite their failure to score any points, Hamilton and Mercedes remain in charge of both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship ahead of the final race before the summer break in Hungary next weekend.
“You never go home and say why didn’t we win, you say why did we lose,” added Wolff.
“This is certainly going to be the discussion that we will have tomorrow. We are united in the team.”
Provided by Press Association Sport