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Exclusive Daniil Kvyat Q&A: Red Bull experience ‘character building’

22 May 2015

When Daniil Kvyat was ‘promoted’ from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing at the end of 2015 after just one season, he must have thought he was on a sure-fire route to race wins. Sadly for Kvyat, things haven’t turned out quite as expected. But despite his and the team’s recent woes, the Russian is convinced they are on the right track for recovery - especially after his P5 result in Monaco practice on Thursday…

Q: Daniil, what looked like a dream come true - joining a top team like Red Bull - must right now feel like a bit of a nightmare? Was it a hard landing?

Daniil Kvyat: Well, you see I am surviving whatever landing it was! (laughs) I know how the situation is right now and there are no feelings of disappointment. I am still enjoying being here in the first place - having made it to this fantastic team. We are all pushing very hard. True, it is not the easiest time for both of us and we are trying to get over this situation - and I know that we are going to make it. Yes, it is easy to criticise the team and myself right now, but I don’t pay attention to that.

Q: Especially when someone like Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost says that you have the ‘world champion gene’…

DK: If somebody with as much experience with young drivers says that, who would not believe it? I really enjoyed working with him. He has helped me a lot - so I will work very hard to let the ‘gene’ come forward! (laughs) But, of course, in Formula One so many factors play into making it to the very top. But believe me, we are working on it.

Q: Five races gone - what was positive?

DK: To know that nobody is giving up. The spirit is still fantastic - still a very positive attitude despite the fact that we have to get a number of issues sorted out.

Q: What was the positive for you personally? You speak of ‘we’ but what about the ‘I’?

DK: That I still know how to drive a racing car - and very fast. That I haven’t forgotten!

Q: What would you say could be your biggest virtue right now? Holding your nerve?

DK: Ha! More than holding your nerve it is to never stop believing in yourself. I trust myself - and I have trust in the team. With the right attitude and the right approach we will get over that difficult time.

Q: Does it help to be Russian in such a situation? The stereotype says that Russians are not easy to agitate…
Ha, probably, yes. But relaxed is only half the truth. You also have to put a bit of pressure on yourself to move forward.

Q: Why is it that the technical issues seem to be mainly happening to you?

DK: I have no idea. There is actually no answer to that. It just happens. Yes, it was not the easiest start into a season, but you have to learn to deal with that. And I am sure that my lucky moments will come.

Q: So you are not in your room hammering your fists against the call shouting, ‘Why always me’?

DK: Of course not. Remember I am Russian! (laughs)

Q: You are in only your second F1 season. In the situation Red Bull Racing are now, do you wish you had more experience?

DK: If I were in my 15th season, sure that would mean that I have done so many races and have been in so many situations that probably it would be easier. But I am going through a difficult time for the first time, so I am right now building experience. It is character building for all of us - also the team, who have not been in such a situation before - and we will come out stronger. That is what I believe. You cannot ‘create’ experience - you have to go through it.

Q: How was your Barcelona test day? It was probably the most running that you’ve done so far?

DK: Yes, it was a really relaxed day just being in the car and driving, and driving… On the team side we’ve been working on the chassis and Renault had their chance to work on their issues. It was very important for me to do so many laps. It was just great.

Q: Will what Red Bull was testing translate into better results at the coming races?

DK: I hope so. I am pretty positive about it. But Monaco is such a particular track, so you cannot say that what worked well in Barcelona will automatically also work here - unfortunately.

Q: You are on your fourth engine. Number five will translate into penalties - and that could be as close as Canada. Isn’t it frustrating to know that whatever you do on the track you will always be dropped down the order?

DK: I am a fighter. Regardless of where I am starting from I will always fight until the end. Yes, when we get penalised that could mean we start from the back, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot have a good race.

Q: When you look at Toro Rosso’s 2015 qualifying statistics, might there be a hint of envy…

DK: No, not really. I am here right now at Red Bull, period. Yes, it’s true Toro Rosso does super qualifying, but I also enjoyed that last year.

Q: Monaco is the slowest track of the season - is that Red Bull’s chance to make the missing horsepower less relevant?

DK: Probably. But we haven’t been great in the corners either lately, so we also have room for improvement there. Yes, when I think it over this weekend is an opportunity - and from what we saw in FP2 we are in a good way, even if it was cut short due to the rain. We made some good changes that helped a lot in the swimming pool part of the track, so let’s hope that this good form of ours lasts throughout the weekend. P5 was not bad, was it? It’s only my second time here and wow, I love it, as it is the biggest adrenalin boost of the calendar. That’s great for me - and of course a good result would be the icing on the cake.