Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost has confirmed in no uncertain terms that Daniil Kvyat’s career with Red Bull in Formula 1 is over.
Speaking during a press conference on day one of the Mexican Grand Prix, Tost told reporters, “He is not anymore with Red Bull and therefore he is free to decide whatever he wants to do.”
He was asked again if with immediate effect the Russian was no longer part of the Red Bull family, Tost replied, “No, he’s not anymore with Red Bull and Toro Rosso.”
This brings to an end Kvyat’s Red Bull career in Formula 1, with whom he made 72 starts, scored 133 points and finished twice on the podium.
Red Bull are notoriously tough on their juniors who are financed and groomed through the young driver programme in the junior formulae to Formula 1 via Toro Rosso, with several driver’s careers made and broken by the programme.
Having said that, the organisation has been unusually lenient with the Russian who burst on the scene at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix where he made his debut for Toro Rosso.
He impressed enough in his rookie season to gain promotion to the Red Bull senior team, beating Jean Eric Vergne to the coveted seat alongside Daniel Ricciardo.
In his first year with Red Bull he outscored Ricciardo, finishing seventh in the championship. But the following season – by then his on-track antics had earned him the nickname ‘Torpedo’ – things started going downhill.
A series of shunts involving former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, appears to have been the catalyst to have him demoted back to Toro Rosso with young hotshot Max Verstappen promoted to Red Bull in his place. That was four races into the 2016 season.
Since then Kvyat never found his rhythm again. Indeed he was exppected to be axed at the end of 2016, after being thoroughly outperformed by Carlos Sainz.
Nevertheless Red Bull kept the faith and retained him for 2017. But improvements were not forthcoming, while Sainz scored points, Kvyat did not and he kept bending cars on a regular basis.
Finally, Red Bull had enough and decided to replace the Russian with their rising star Pierre Gasly, in Malaysia for the rest of the season.
However, Kvyat was brought back as Gasly was committed the finale of the Japanese Super Formula championship which clashed with the race in Texas. Ironically Kvyat delivered one of his best performances of the season at the United States Grand Prix, finishing tenth in what could be his final grand prix.
But shortly after the race in Austin, Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko announced, “Kvyat will not return again. We do not believe he can make the turnaround in the long term.”
In Mexico, Red Bull chief Christian Horner explained, “Dany Kvyat has obviously had a large investment from Red Bull over the years. He had the opportunity to step into Red Bull Racing and compete in the 2015 season and the start of the 2016 season with the team.”
“Formula 1 is a tough business and unfortunately Dany didn’t do enough, in our opinion, to warrant retaining that seat. But we still believed in him and he was given a second opportunity, which is very unusual in Formula 1, to retake the seat with Toro Rosso. And then from there we obviously have other juniors that we have invested in that are knocking on the door of Formula 1.”
Williams remain a team with one of a few race seats available on the F1 grid for 2018. Russian automobile federation chief Igor Ermilin suggested that this would be an option that Kvyat and his minders would explore.
“Formula 1 is a tough world, but what is important now is that Daniil’s hands are untied,” said Ermilin. “He now has time to try to negotiate with Williams, even if it is true he is not the only candidate for this place.
“So in one way it’s good that it happened now, while he still has a chance. It is quite in Marko’s nature to make such a statement at the end of the season, when surely it would be too late.”
Big Question: Did Daniil get a rough deal from Red Bull?