The prospects of Russian drivers having a presence in F1 again is improving ahead of the country’s inaugural race next year.
Yesterday Sauber announced it was bringing Sergey Sirotkin into its Young Driver Program and suggested he could race for the team as early as next year.
Now Toro Rosso have announced they are giving a test to another young Russian racer: Daniil Kvyat, who is part of Red Bull’s young driver program.
Kvyat, a 19-year-old from the Republic of Bashkortostan who speaks four languages, is racing in the F1-supporting GP3 championship and the FIA’s European Formula Three series this year. Last year he won the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS championship and finished as runner-up to McLaren young driver Stoffel Vandoorne in the European series.
Kvyat will drive the STR8 on Friday afternoon. Another Red Bull junior team member, Carlos Sainz Jnr, will also have a run in the car, as will Venezuelan GP2 driver Johnny Cecotto Jnr. The team’s race drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will also be on hand to test Pirelli’s new tires for the next race.
Sainz will also test for Red Bull as well as another of their young test drivers, Antonio Felix da Costa.
Meanwhile Force India have announced they will give a test to British GP2 driver James Calado as well as running both their race drivers.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.