RACE DEBRIEF

    An impressive Russian Grand Prix from Daniil Kvyat saw him show strong enough pace to briefly hold off the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton mid-race before he eventually fell to P8 at the flag. And the AlphaTauri driver said afterwards that his home race at the Sochi Autodrom couldn’t have gone better.

    Kvyat was one of just two drivers, along with Kimi Raikkonen, to start his race on the hard tyre, and he used that strategy to work his way as high as P3 at one point, managing to stay in front of the recovering Lewis Hamilton for a number of laps before eventually pitting on Lap 30 of 53.

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    He then showed strong pace on the medium tyres to come within an ace of taking P7 from Renault’s Esteban Ocon on the final lap, finishing less than a second behind the Frenchman in a very satisfied eighth, and one place up on his team mate Pierre Gasly who started two places ahead of him in ninth.

    “Fantastic, I’m really happy,” said Kvyat after the Grand Prix. “My home race couldn’t have gone any better. I wanted that strategy, I wanted to go strong, I was confident this morning that we can make things work, and in fact, we did.

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    Kvyat had the pace to briefly hold off Hamilton

    “When I saw Hamilton behind me, and when I was able to keep him behind me for a couple of laps, I thought the [race pace] is amazing, so nothing to say really. Perfect! Just a shame not being able to force Ocon into a mistake, otherwise we could have been P7. We were quicker, but I can’t complain.”

    Asked if he’d been surprised by the turn of pace in the AlphaTauri AT01, meanwhile, Kvyat replied: “I know that if I get it right on Sunday, I’m the best and I can fly. Today was exactly this day. I got everything right with my engineers, the set-up, the strategy. Once I was in clean air, I felt that this was my race.”

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    The only dampener on Sunday for Kvyat was the fact that AlphaTauri, who’d been steadily catching Ferrari in the constructors’ standings, were outscored by their fellow Italians by dint of Charles Leclerc’s P6 giving his team eight points to AlphaTauri’s six. But Kvyat said there was reason to be encouraged for the races ahead, with Formula 1 now heading to the Nurburgring for the Eifel Grand Prix on October 9-11.

    “Ferrari, unfortunately, outscored us today, but we have to keep pushing,” said Kvyat. “The car is there, the pace is there, hopefully we’ll continue like this, but I’m confident, I’m pleased with the car more and more every race, so it’s very good.”