Having been stood down by Red Bull for the last couple of races, Daniil Kvyat is back in at Toro Rosso this weekend, alongside rookie Brendon Hartley. After the break Kvyat admits that his batteries are now ‘recharged’ – but what does the future hold? We sat down with the Russian for an exclusive chat…
Q: Daniil, can you give an insight into the status of your Formula One career?
Daniil Kvyat: I will speak soon with Helmut Marko about my current status. I am also looking for answers. But on a busy race weekend it is not the best time to try and find these kinds of answers as you fully focus on the racing. But of course I want to know as soon as possible!
Q: We understand that you are still part of the Red Bull family – but what does that exactly mean? That they can send you to whatever series they want you to race?
DK: I have a long-term contract with Red Bull. But of course we have seen that there are opportunities elsewhere with the correct negotiations. But the fact is Red Bull and me have a good relationship – and we’ll talk when the time is right. For sure it is not the best of scenarios where you have to go race by race never knowing if you will sit in the car the next time. As a driver you want a certain amount of stability to fully concentrate on your job. I always want to know what is ahead of me.
Q: Theoretically Toro Rosso has two unconfirmed cockpits. Are you a hopeful for one of them?
DK: I think so. But I will have to talk with Helmut. It is not so straightforward. I really need to know what the future holds for me. I want to fight for high results – whether it is in F1 or somewhere else – or Toro Rosso or somewhere else. We have to sort out the opportunities that are available.
Q: Could the switch to Honda engines play to your advantage, as it does not really make sense to put two rookies in the cars in such a crucial situation? There are no other experienced guys available – not in the paddock and definitely not in the Red Bull portfolio…
DK: I have been away for two races so have not been so much a part of these new developments with Honda and what it means. There was a bit of silence so I need to find out what the exact meaning of this new cooperation is. But as I said, before we will sit down with Helmut and discuss the situation from all angles and then decide what best to do. And even if it would make a lot of sense in this new engine situation, things sometimes don’t go after what makes sense. (Laughs)
Q: What about your personal Plan B? Is there something you can imagine putting your energy into it?
DK: Actually I do. But I have not been strongly committing to anything in the past, as racing was my focus. And as long as I am here I will fully focus on this, as anything else would be destruction. But if there is something that I find out I want to do more than racing I will switch – but the time has not come yet. Right now I want to find out what my function is in racing and how Red Bull sees my future.
Q: When looking at your F1 career, it seems at one point it got jinxed. Where you were once in the right place at the right time, suddenly it was too often in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is bad luck the only explanation?
DK: I don’t have any sound explanation. Maybe this is what makes a ‘normal’ racing career that you have to go through ups and downs - that sometimes it goes really good and then sometimes you are completely at the wrong time at the wrong place. But then: why dwell on it? I look back and can say that in every situation I have done my best.
Q: Two races out of the car: how was it on Friday to finally feel the thrill of an F1 car again?
DK: Yes, it is really cool. But for really going ‘cold turkey’ the break was not big enough. It was more a recharging of batteries – and actually it was pretty positive. I have a strong motivation to do well. Toro Rosso is in a very tight group where you have to bring always everything to the table.
Q: How did you follow the last two races? At home from the couch?
DV: I didn’t follow it. Or let’s say I only followed it a bit – like qualifying in Malaysia. And I followed the race edits – the most important scenes of the two races, and of course stayed in touch with the team. But of course I was also occupied with finding answers for myself for my future. My long-term future – not just next year – but 2019 and 2020. To get some idea where I might end up.
Q: There are four more races left this season. Has the team given you a target that you have to reach?
DV: You don’t have to be a genius to know that they expect me to extract the maximum out of the car every single lap. Now I do this race this weekend – and then let’s see. First is my meeting with Helmut…
Q: …so the understanding that you will do all remaining four races is not set in stone…
DK: To be honest I do not have much understanding of my situation. That’s the negative aspect of the current situation. I hope after the meeting – that I expect to happen in the next two days – I will see much clearer.
Q: What is your plan for this race?
DK: I want to go back to my usual pace. I felt comfortable in the car again straight away. There are some plans for changes on the car for qualifying – and then let’s see what the outcome is.