Kvyat: Top ten on debut a pleasant surprise

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Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat has admitted that he did not expect to qualify inside the top ten on his Formula 1 debut, but he is elated to have done exactly that in Australia today.

19-year-old Kvyat took advantage of the wet conditions to qualify in eighth place for the Australian Grand Prix, having only previously ran during pre-season testing and two Friday practice sessions in 2013 for Toro Rosso before this weekend. Although this result appears to prove just why Red Bull saw it fit to fast-track Kvyat to Formula 1, the Russian driver said that it was far from expected.

“This was a very good session for us and I really didn’t expect to be qualifying 8th at my first grand prix two months ago!” he explained after qualifying on Saturday. “This is definitely a big step forward and I’m very happy for the team, who did a fantastic job also from the strategy side.

“The conditions were very tricky, but the car felt good and in the end we were able to put everything together. Now our focus is on tomorrow, which should be interesting also because of the weather forecast.”

Kvyat was not the only rookie to impress on debut on Saturday as McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen performed admirably to qualify in fourth place in his first F1 qualifying session. Furthermore, Kvyat’s teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne, also excelled in the wet conditions to qualify a career-best P6.

“It’s a very good feeling, a great start to the season,” Vergne said. “After so much hard work during winter testing, to get two cars into Q3 is a great result and I’m very happy. I think we have a good car for the season, I believe in the team and in myself so I can’t really say that I’m surprised. The guys did a very good job and I want to thank everybody for getting two cars in the top ten.”

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.