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Lessons have been learned - exclusive Daniil Kvyat Q&A

12 May 2016

Thursday in Spain saw Daniil Kvyat face the press for the first time since Red Bull Racing’s shock announcement that they were replacing him with Max Verstappen, and shipping him back to Toro Rosso. The Russian did not pretend to be happy about the move, but insisted he is already a wiser man as a result. Now his plan is to prove his worth once more - and wrap up some unfinished business with his former team…

Q: Daniil, the swap came as a huge surprise. Had you received any warning signs that something like this might happen?

Daniil Kvyat: Well, the warning signs were in the air for a year and a half. But when you have brought your first podium to the team two weeks before, yes, then that comes as a surprise - and you can’t really be happy with the decision they are making. But out of the respect that I have for my bosses I cannot express any anger. I am going back to the team that was home for me in 2014 and it looks as though the team has developed a lot. Toro Rosso has huge potential and I will do my absolute best to open up that potential, and also look to brighten my future.

Q: When you say there had been warning signs for a year and a half…

DK: …not really warning signs - but also never a comfort zone.

Q: So insecurity regarding your F1 future was a daily companion?

DK: Yes, it was always there. It wasn’t a great thing. But lately I felt that everything was more or less fine - especially with the Shanghai podium - so I didn’t really expect that to happen. But there you go. It was a very shocking thing for me.

Q: Who was the bearer of the bad news?

DK: [Red Bull motorsport consultant] Dr Helmut Marko called me in the middle of last week after the Russian Grand Prix - and I thanked him for calling me and not just sending an sms! We had a long and productive conversation where I learned some quite new and interesting things.

Q: How did that go?

DK: He said, ‘Hello, we have same news for you’. And as I wanted to have an explanation, I kept him on the phone for a while.

Q: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said that you shall refocus on your career at Toro Rosso. What does that mean? What are you supposed to do?

DK: I have no idea. I don’t know what they expect. I know what brought me here and what brought me two podiums in not so competitive cars - so I will be doing the same things to be honest. So let’s see what it brings me with Toro Rosso. Maybe Toro Rosso will be able to provide me with even better things. Who knows?

Q: There are rumours that Red Bull’s fear of losing Max Verstappen to a rival team is the reason for all this…

DK: I don’t have an explanation. I know that in Formula One sometimes is not only about what you do on track that defines your future. There are many things behind the curtain, as I have learned last week. I’ve had an extremely steep learning curve in the last week about Formula One and life in general - and it’s made me stronger. I have a very long memory and I will remember this decision that has been taken.

Q: You have no doubt gone over and over in your mind your last few weeks at Red Bull to see if you have done something wrong. Have you?

DK: Off the track, yes. As I said before, there are many things going on behind the curtain and unfortunately I had to learn it the hard way - but now I have learned. And should I lay my hands on a good car again, I will also use that outside the car much more.

Q: Does ‘off the track’ imply a slight naivety or lack of political nous on your part?

DK: Perhaps, yes. Perhaps I really only started to understand that very recently - that no matter how good you are and how well you do your job, there is always something going on behind the curtain. I have always been very loyal to Red Bull - and I think that should also be an asset for them. So now let’s see how things develop.

Q: We have never seen a driver switched from Red Bull Racing to Toro Rosso before - only the other way. Surely that must mean they still regard you as a valuable asset. Will that save your F1 career?

DK: All I can say is let’s see what the future holds. There are 17 races remaining this year and if I do everything right my future can be very interesting.

Q: Toro Rosso this year are a very good team and P5 in the constructors’ standings could be within reach - or at least that is team principal Franz Tost’s hope. That means that both drivers have to deliver. Is that your job this season? Is that there where you fit into the Red Bull picture?

DK: Absolutely. And I see that as a clear opportunity with Toro Rosso. I like the team a lot - it is a mutual feeling. And I have to say that Franz, (technical chief) James (Key), me and the whole Toro Rosso team - we still have big-time unfinished business, which I want to finish in style!

Q: So how do you want the future to unfold?

DK: Well, I have to get comfortable in the car - which is not really an issue - and then I want to score big points!

Q: Best you start with it this weekend…

DK: …as maybe the future starts now. I have always done my best - and always will. There is nothing that I will change in my approach on the track - just maybe off the track.

Q: A podium would be really nice, wouldn’t it?

DK: Beating a Red Bull Racing car would be great. I’ve done it already in the past - in 2014 - and it would be great to do it again now.