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Exclusive Daniil Kvyat Q&A: Red Bull likely to slip back on Saturday

21 Aug 2015

Red Bull exceeded expectations and were Mercedes' main challengers on Friday at Spa-Francorchamps, but Daniil Kvyat does not believe that dynamic will be repeated as the competition ratchets up in qualifying and the race. In a wide-ranging interview, the Russian discusses his hopes for the rest of 2015, rumours of a Red Bull-Mercedes tie-up, and why he won't be drinking whisky on a red carpet any time soon...

Q: Daniil, your hopes were high when you joined Red Bull, but the reality hasn't always matched up – until Budapest perhaps. Was that the closest you have come to your expectations?

Daniil Kvyat: Well, in the end of course a podium – and to walk away with a trophy - is very nice. So yes, in some way I was very happy – but now I want more! Yeah, simply more.

Q: So it didn't make a long-lasting impression?

DK: The first few hours after the race – even some days after – I was pretty excited. A sort of small ecstasy – but as I know very well that it's not healthy to live in a dream I landed pretty soon. The feeling of wanting more got stronger though.

Q: So when will be the right time for another high?

DK: That is not something you can predict. It was very surprising in Budapest – even though the track layout suited our momentary situation. But you can't track down opportunity to a specific moment. Be there when it happens – that's the best guess!

Q: Can you talk us through your race? When did you really believe that it would be a podium finish? Reliability has sometimes been a devil for your car this year...

DK: After the safety car I somehow figured out that there could be a chance as I was running on a very good strategy – so it popped up in my mind that there might be a chance for me. Daniel (Ricciardo) had a crash with Rosberg – that was what made me believe that I could pull it off. True, I had a ten second penalty and that wasn't very nice news – but my advantage was big enough to stay ahead.

Q: Budapest was a surprising result, and it also owed something to Mercedes' struggles. But equally there were three Renault-powered cars in the top four. Is this a sign that things have turned significantly for the better?

DK: I think more than anything else that good result was a product of many incidents that happened in the race – including my time penalty. It's true that the Budapest track has less straight lines so is much more favourable for us. We want more of these tracks – this season! (laughs)

Q: Budapest meant a good chance for flagging engines – but what about Spa? This track usually punishes any horsepower deficit...

DK: We shouldn't look too great here, even if today's results look a bit different than what everybody was probably expecting. But I am afraid that in qualifying the real pecking order here will become visible. These long straight lines are not our thing really. We still do have a power deficit. Having said that I still believe that we can have a good result here based on what we've seen today. We had pretty good sessions – even if we didn't run as much as others did, or as we should have. Both sessions were smooth, but the gap of about one second is not really Red Bull style – and that was basically due to the problems we had in sector two. Overall I think we are now in a situation where we really pull together very strongly – and that can make a huge difference.

Q: Most drivers say that Spa is one of their favourites. Despite the power deficit you have to deal with, is it also one of yours?

DK: It has a lot of very interesting parts. It is super flowing with fast sections – that's for me! It is even enjoyable to race here even if you have a bit of a power shortage. It's a driver's track so I always find something enjoyable here – even if I can do nothing about the missing straight-line speed.

Q: There have been rumours that Red Bull Racing could run with a Mercedes engine next season. Would that please you?

DK: I don't know about these negotiations. My opinion on that is that we as a team should do anything to get back in the winning habit - whatever it takes. The paramount thing is to win! We should do anything to have the most competitive package in the back of our car. We deserve it.

Q: What about the new starting procedure? Will it mean that you need to start from the first three to four rows not avoid the 'danger zone'?

DK: It is nothing special. Nothing really changes. There is a lot of talk, but in the end it is not much different. As for talk about the driver having massively more to do - b******t!

Q: Some say F1 racing lacks drivers with personality and lifestyle – that only Lewis Hamilton meets the criteria for the demands of a global sport. When will you have your big outing on the red carpets?

DK: Ha, I don't know. It is something that I am not really interested in. When the results come you become more of a household face - but I am not pushing for that. People have different life styles. What do you expect: that I smoke a cigarette in front of everybody and get badmouthed in the media? Or drink a bottle of whisky? People would say: 'Of course - the Russians!' No that's not for me. I like to live the life that I am living. I am living for Formula One, and that's enough for me. For me it makes more sense to be a bit of a mystery and not show everything - that's my style.

Q: The summer break gives drivers time to reflect on the first half of the season. How satisfied are you – and what do you want to achieve in the next half?

DK: I think these were quite positive months, especially given the tough start. I have grown super close with my team, and now we are prepared for bigger things in the future. And the future starts this weekend.

Q: What are the biggest differences between Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing?

DK: More people - 600 more. I think that explains it all. And of course there is a difference in mentality between an Italian-based and a UK-based team. Where is more fun? I find my fun everywhere.