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Daniil Kvyat Q&A: Toro Rosso can surprise in 2017

12 Nov 2016

It really has been a rollercoaster year for Daniil Kvyat, dropped by Red Bull Racing midseason in favour of Max Verstappen, and moved back to a Toro Rosso team handicapped by a 2015-spec Ferrari engine. But the Russian refused to let his head drop, and his revived form saw him retained by the Italian squad for 2017, when they will benefit from the latest Renault power unit. No wonder then that Kvyat is feeling upbeat in Brazil, where on Saturday he out-qualified team mate Carlos Sainz to secure 14th on the Sao Paulo grid…

Q: Daniil, are race weekends very different since you learnt that you will stay with Toro Rosso for 2017? Much more relaxed?

Daniil Kvyat: Of course it is. You get into the car much easier without counting down the races and thinking that it might be your last one! Sure we are fighting a bit against the wind, as we know that since midseason the engine has come to its end performance-wise. But even with this handicap we will give it everything and hope to score a point or two.

Q: Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost never made a secret of the fact that he wanted to keep you, but there were also rumours that Force India knocked at your door…

DK: Ha, isn’t it nice to see that you are a driver in demand after all! (Laughs) I am very happy to remain a part of the Red Bull family. For the last two races I want to give my ultimate best - but simultaneously I am working with my engineers already massively on 2017 to build an even stronger platform to the one we have already.

Q: Do you think that there will be a significant raise in performance once Toro Rosso start running the Renault engine for 2017?

DK: It should definitely be better, because running last year’s engine without any updates throughout the season never helps, and from what we have seen from Red Bull Racing, the Renault engine has made some significant steps forward. So the hope is high that this will also go for next year. Toro Rosso has a great group of people, so I am sure that we will be able to surprise on a couple of occasions.

Q: Your season has been more stressful than most drivers’ - your ‘demotion’ came so suddenly: on the podium in China for Red Bull Racing and then moved on after the next race. That must have shaken your self-belief. How do you look back on it now?

DK: Do be honest I have never been keen to look backwards too much - and especially not this season. It was too much of an up and down - something that was pretty hard to swallow. But now I have another chance to show my full potential and believe me, I will make full use of it.

Q: How much of chance will you have to show your potential this weekend?

DK: Well, we couldn’t run as much as we wanted to on Friday - and that, of course, shows today. As everybody knows by now, we are a bit handicapped with our engine performance, so we have to find ways to work around that, so you regret every lap that you cannot do. Overall I would say we are in the range of what we expected, and with conditions that are so difficult to predict anything can happen. Friday we had pretty warm temperatures and today it dropped by a minimum 10 degrees with occasionally light drizzle. And the same or even worse can be expected for Sunday - and that can make a huge difference. So the hope is actually that what we’ve probably missed in running on Friday is not so grave, as everybody will have to find a new compromise for the existing conditions.

Q: Had there been hopes of making it into Q3 today?

DK: Not really. From what we have seen the whole weekend we would have needed a complete blackout by some of the others. And that didn’t happen. Probably we were a bit surprised about the performance of Haas, which in the last few races have been behind us. But I assume this is also an engine matter - and in that respect we are a bit on the down side. So as I said, we are pretty much where we had expected to be. But that does not mean that when the chance is there in the race that we will not do anything to score points.

Q: Toro Rosso are a safe P7 in the standings, with clean air between McLaren ahead and Haas behind - so you don’t really have anything to gain or lose…

DK: You always gain with a good race! And that is what we want to deliver tomorrow - and points would be the icing on the cake.