THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR DANIIL KVYAT?

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

In what has turned out to be one of the most re­mark­able driver silly sea­sons on record, Red Bull have turned to a man they have al­ready dis­carded twice.

Back in 2016, Kvyat found him­self rel­e­gated from Red Bull Rac­ing to Toro Rosso af­ter a dif­fi­cult start to the sea­son – open­ing the way for Max Ver­stap­pen to take his place and se­cure a mem­o­rable maiden vic­tory at the Span­ish Grand Prix.

Kvyat en­dured a fur­ther 18 largely un­pro­duc­tive months at Toro Rosso, dur­ing which he and the team be­gan to blame each other for short­com­ings in per­for­mance. He was dropped for Pierre Gasly, and failed to re­gain a seat when Car­los Sainz moved to Re­nault.

Kvyat be­came a Fer­rari de­vel­op­ment driver, to all in­tents and pur­poses a sim­u­la­tor jockey, and his rac­ing days ap­peared to be over. But only su­per­fi­cially; qui­etly, Kvyat was work­ing to­wards mak­ing a come­back, and to that end he even en­gaged the man­age­ment ser­vices of Ni­co­las Todt, one of the sport’s key movers and shak­ers.

The op­por­tu­nity came with Daniel Ric­cia­rdo’s de­fec­tion from Red Bull to Re­nault. Red Bull quickly pro­moted Gasly to fill the va­cancy, leav­ing a void at Toro Rosso: not only was Bren­don Hart­ley’s fu­ture un­cer­tain, Red Bull cur­rently have no ju­nior driv­ers who can qual­ify for a su­per­li­cence. Kvyat spied an op­por­tu­nity.

In fact, Kvyat was well-in­formed enough – per­haps as a re­sult of Todt’s con­nec­tions – to have opened

“RATHER NAIVELY I PUT UP THIS IM­AGE ON THE SCREEN AND ALL THE PHONES CAME OUT... ROSS BRAWN

com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Red Bull mo­tor­sport ad­vi­sor Hel­mut Marko even be­fore Ric­cia­rdo served no­tice.

Marko says: “He was in­formed about Ric­cia­rdo’s move be­fore it was an­nounced, so he rang me be­fore Ric­cia­rdo did. But we had been in con­tact be­fore that al­ready.”

Those ear­lier con­ver­sa­tions had left Marko with the im­pres­sion that Kvyat’s year on the side­lines had ac­tu­ally helped his men­tal strength – and helped him to de­velop a re­silience and ma­tu­rity that had per­haps been lack­ing dur­ing pre­vi­ous spells at Toro Rosso and Red Bull.

“He’s more hun­gry, and he saw how dif­fi­cult it is to get a seat in F1,” says Marko. “He told me the rea­sons things hap­pened. His whole en­vi­ron­ment is a much bet­ter one.”

Red Bull boss Chris­tian Horner – who was in­stru­men­tal in both the pro­mo­tion and demotion of Kvyat dur­ing his Red Bull years – reck­oned that re­jec­tion was the big­gest ob­sta­cle Kvyat had to sur­mount.

“That was very tough for him,” says Horner. “In 2015 he was very strong. Mon­treal and Mex­ico were very good races for him. But 2016 was much tougher. It’s a sec­ond com­ing for him. He’s still young, hun­gry, and a bit of time out­side F1 gives an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect, re­build and re­group. He’s still a very tal­ented driver.”

Dur­ing Kvyat’s brief time in a top seat, and dur­ing his fall from grace, what of­ten dis­tin­guished his per­for­mances was a fragility un­der pres­sure. His ten­dency to make poor de­ci­sions un­der duress – evinced by a num­ber of high-pro­file first-lap crashes – un­der­mined a rep­u­ta­tion built on tremen­dous nat­u­ral speed. The ques­tion now is whether his en­forced sab­bat­i­cal has en­abled him to de­velop suf­fi­cient re­silience when he en­ters the spot­light again.

“Ob­vi­ously one thing I know for sure I am very pos­i­tive now, very happy to be back, and that’s all,” Kvyat says. “But you know you can­not be happy for­ever.”

IT’S A SEC­OND COM­ING FOR HIM. HE’S STILL YOUNG, HUN­GRY, AND A BIT OF TIME OUT­SIDE F1 GIVES AN OP­POR­TU­NITY TO RE­FLECT, RE­BUILD AND RE­GROUP CHRIS­TIAN HORNER

Kvyat didn’t take re­jec­tion ly­ing down, and saw a fu­ture for him­self be­yond be­ing a Fer­rari ‘sim jockey’

Kvyat was de­moted back to Toro Rosso and ul­ti­mately sacked to­wards the end of 2017

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