With a move to Renault power and a much-admired new car, a lot was expected of Toro Rosso this season. On the whole they have delivered – even if it’s Carlos Sainz rather than Daniil Kvyat who has secured 25 of their 29 points to date. Ahead of this weekend’s Canadian race, we caught up with Kvyat to get his take on what, on paper at least, looks a rather one-sided campaign at the Italian team…
Q: Daniil, after six races are you satisfied with how the season is developing so far?
Daniil Kvyat: Actually it is not too bad at all if you look at things that were under my control. The car feels most of the time quite decent. For things out of my control: why should I worry? I think I cannot add anything else to that.
Q: Can you talk us through your highlights and low points?
DK: Ha, there have been no highlights so far - and no real low points. Everything has been quite stable. But don’t get me wrong: the highlights are yet to come! There isn’t much else I can say.
Q: Isn’t there any episode in a race that you particularly enjoyed?
DK: No, not really. There is nothing on the good nor bad side that I can really highlight. There has been no peak performance yet - and no black hole. The car has been suiting me quite well his year, but there has not been any opportunity yet to demonstrate that. Not a single race where I would say: ‘Wow, that race has been really good’ – nor one that has been really bad, where I have done things completely wrong.
Q: Then it boils down to luck - or lack of it - when things have happened that were out of your control. How do you deal with that mentally, knowing that you are competitive, the car suits you and yet still the results are not the way you want them?
DK: I don’t really deal with such questions. I just drive. Because that is all I can do in these situations. As I said before, why should I worry about things that are not in my hands? It makes no sense to go deeper into these situations.
Q: In 2016 Toro Rosso had to overcome the deficit of using an old-spec Ferrari engine. Now you are racing the same Renault power unit as Red Bull Racing: what positives do you see in that?
DK: To be honest, nothing is really changing for me racing the same engine as Red Bull Racing. The only positive fact is that our 2017 engine is not completely frozen, as the 2016 Ferrari engine was, so we will not be so handicapped towards the end of the season. Otherwise I would say that we don’t have the best straight-line car at the moment. The car behaves well if you set it up in the correct window, but the window is very narrow and every time you are slightly out of that window the car starts to get quite big issues.
Q: Can you give examples of where the car has been in that elusive window - and where it’s been completely out of it?
DK: Without going too deep into detail, as this is very technical, I can say that in Australia I felt pretty happy with the car. And as a negative example, qualifying in Barcelona where we took a wrong approach. That then starts a snowball effect where one thing leads to another. We are working very hard to broaden this window and stay within it more often than we have so far.
Q: So far the team is en route to Franz Tost’s dream target of P5 in the constructors’ championship. Will it be possible to keep Williams, Renault and Haas behind?
DK: I think we don’t look bad at all in comparison to these teams behind us, so it is up to us to stay where we are. But looking behind is one thing – looking ahead is much more important! Just take the last race: one team ahead of us did not score a single point. So the thing is to have more things under control - on my side of the garage.
Q: Is it a pretty satisfying feeling to have fewer teams ahead of you than behind you?
DK: Of course.
Q: In all fairness there is a huge gap between your points tally and that of your team mate Carlos (Sainz). Why is that?
DK: As I said before, there have been circumstances that were out of my control. There is nothing more to say - and it is sure not something to compare the drivers on.
Q. When will you bounce back? Is there a track in the next couple of races that you particularly like? One that gives you that extra boost?
DK: No, because it is not a matter of track but of the right window of the car. And then any track will do.
Q: So no favourite at all? Canada is obviously not ‘your’ track…
DK: …why? I like Canada. It is not too bad.
Q: But from your three starts here you’ve only bagged two points…
DK: I wouldn’t say that my stats are too bad on this track.
Q: You used to spend a lot of time reading, including the classics – something some of your colleagues thought marked you out as a little strange. How do you see it?
DK: Ha, maybe the other guys also look strange to me. Yes, we are all pretty different here - we all have our own story, our own history. But to be honest, I didn’t find much inspiration lately in reading. I have pretty much read the biggest oeuvres, so lately I focus on engineer reports - it’s quite exciting! (Laughs)