Exploring Daniil Kvyat’s high-pressure path in the Red Bull program, from fierce competition with Carlos Sainz to his challenging Formula 1 debut, revealing the relentless pursuit of excellence in motorsports.
Within the Red Bull junior program, Daniil Kvyat was consistently under high pressure: he was expected not only to continuously deliver solid results but also to regularly outperform his peers and competitors within the program.
For instance, in 2010, the Russian, competing in Formula BMW Europe, was teamed up with none other than Carlos Sainz.
That year, the Spaniard managed to outpace Daniil Kvyat. The pressure quickly mounted for Kvyat. Dr. Marko, known for his unique approach to human resource management, certainly made an impression on the young driver at that time…
“He told me: ‘You know what, if you don’t improve in the next race, I think we’ll stop there’, and I replied: ‘Wow, OK.'”
“Under immense pressure, I needed to outperform Carlos at Hockenheim, as Helmut instructed,” Kvyat reflected on his challenging times.
“I said: ‘Alright, but please, change the car settings to my liking. We did it and it worked out very well, I remember beating Carlos in qualifying and being ahead in the races. I think that’s what Helmut really appreciated about me, because he thought: ‘OK, if I can tell him he’s going to be fired and he can do this job, then that’s good.'”
Kvyat and Sainz: Intense Rivalry
The paths of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz continued to intersect afterward.
In the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2011, Carlos Sainz once again got the upper hand over Daniil Kvyat (finishing 2nd to Kvyat’s 3rd in the championship).
In 2013, in the GP3 Series (which Daniil Kvyat won, finishing well ahead of Carlos Sainz), the tension rose again between the two drivers (who were not teammates at the time): both were vying for an immediate seat in F1…
And of course, later in F1, in 2016 and 2017 with Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat became teammates again – but they were on very different trajectories then. Daniil Kvyat had just been demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso…
The Russian admits today that his cohabitation with the Spaniard was not always smooth sailing!
“Today, Carlos and I are very good friends, but when we were teammates, there were some heated moments!”
“We traveled a lot together, we had contacts on the track, and sometimes even our fathers had to intervene and say: ‘Hey guys, calm down!'”
Kvyat’s Triumph and F1 Ascension
“During the GP3 season in 2013, Helmut Marko told us: ‘OK, a Formula 1 seat is on the table, so whoever performs best will probably get it’, and that’s when things started to get really serious. I remember the round in Belgium, where we started first and second, almost equal in points, and I needed to secure that win. I won, Carlos had an accident, and I took a big lead in points.”
“There was another European F3 championship at the time, with a slightly different car. Helmut wanted me to participate in some races in this series too, to perform well with both cars, and I started winning there as well. I remember a race at the Red Bull Ring where I was close to Helmut, so he came to greet me, and I achieved three pole positions out of three, so it was a very important step.”
“Then, Carlos noticed my progress, and he said he would do the World Series by Renault, just to show Helmut he could succeed in both cars, except in his case, it didn’t go as well. So, I won the GP3 title and was offered the Toro Rosso contract for 2014 before the last race. At the time, I felt like I was achieving a feat by signing it.”
Kvyat’s Rocky Start in F1
However, Daniil Kvyat’s F1 debut was challenging: the 2014 Toro Rosso suffered from a clear competitive deficit… And did the Russian feel 100% ready for F1?
“You know, I got so used to being thrown in at the deep end by Helmut throughout my junior career that I thought: Whatever, it’s just the next step…”
“Everything was moving so fast in my life at that time that I thought: We must keep rolling, keep moving forward.”
“Unfortunately, the Renault engines had a disastrous period. During my first test of the season, I didn’t complete any laps, or maybe five laps – out of the pits, back in, out, in – then the engine failed, and we couldn’t get it to work. We only managed a few laps in Bahrain as well, during the pre-season tests. I entered my first race with very few laps under my belt, but fortunately, I had participated in some EL1 sessions the previous year.”
Daniil Kvyat’s Journey at Red Bull: High Pressure & Competition. Daniil Kvyat’s Journey at Red Bull: High Pressure & Competition. F1 2016 Daniil Kvyat’s Journey
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