Russian teenager Daniil Kvyat will race in Formula 1 next season after the Toro Rosso team named him on Monday as the surprise replacement for departing Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
The announcement means that Russia could have two drivers on the starting grid when the country hosts its first grand prix in Sochi next year.
Sauber is already planning to bring little-known 18-year-old Sergey Sirotkin into its line-up, providing he can obtain a superlicence, as part of a deal with the Swiss team’s new Russian backers.
Toro Rosso said in a statement that 19-year-old Kvyat, who has been competing in the Formula Three and GP3 support series, would partner Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne at the Red Bull-owned team.
Ricciardo has already been named as replacement for compatriot Mark Webber, who is leaving the sport at the end of the season, at World Champions Red Bull alongside triple champion Sebastian Vettel.
Kvyat was seen as an outside chance for the Toro Rosso seat, with Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa and even Carlos Sainz Junior considered the more likely choices for the Red Bull ‘junior’ F1 team..
“We are pleased to continue our policy of bringing on drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme,” said principal Franz Tost.
“He impressed our team with a strong performance and very informative technical feedback at the young driver test in Silverstone (in July). This suggests that the basic qualities from which he can progress are all in place.
“Daniil can be sure that we will use all our experience of training youngsters to give him the best possible start to his Formula 1 career,” added Tost.
Kvyat has taken one win, five poles and five podium finishes in Formula 3 this season, and is also still in a position to win the GP3 championship, but he faces a big step up to grand prix racing.
The Rome-based driver, who speaks Italian, said getting the race seat was a dream come true.
“Ever since I began karting, I wanted to get to Formula 1 and now that wish will become reality next season,” he said.
“I had a brief taste of working with the Toro Rosso team, when I drove for them at the Silverstone test and I enjoyed the experience very much.”
Russia is due to host a grand prix in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which is also hosting the Winter Olympics, next October but currently has no Formula 1 drivers.
The only Russian driver to have competed in the sport so far is Vitaly Petrov, who raced for Renault and Caterham from 2010 until the end of last season with third place in Australia in 2011 his best result. (Reuters)