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Daniil Kvyat unveils special ‘torpedo’ F1 helmet for Russian GP

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12 months ago, the trajectory of Daniil Kvyat’s Formula 1 career changed dramatically when a first-lap clash with Sebastian Vettel in Russia spelled the end of his time at Red Bull.

Two hits with the Ferrari driver prompted Red Bull to send Kvyat back to Toro Rosso, it’s B-team in F1, and promote young protege Max Verstappen to its senior team.

The incident had a profound impact on Kvyat, who spent the remainder of the 2016 season trying to regain his form, but he did enough to clinch another year with Toro Rosso f0r 2017.

Ahead of his home race in Russia this weekend, Kvyat has faced questions about the incident with Vettel, but played a largely straight bat, simply saying to reporters on Thursday: “I prefer to look ahead than behind.”

However, Kvyat did offer a playful nod to his surprising rivalry with Vettel last year by unveiling his helmet design for the race in Russia, featuring a torpedo – the nickname Vettel gave him in China, one race before their clash.

Vettel told Kvyat that he “came in like a torpedo” at the first corner in China last year, forcing the Ferrari driver wide and into the path of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Kvyat was non-plussed about the incident, saying they didn’t crash so everything was OK.

While Kvyat may have hit the podium that day, it did prove to be another step towards the exit at Red Bull Racing – but on Sunday, he will have the home crowd in Sochi behind him, torpedo helmet and all.

Kvyat relishing home GP in Russia, one year after Vettel clash

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Daniil Kvyat is relishing his fourth home appearance in Formula 1 at next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, one year on from the clash with Sebastian Vettel that changed his career trajectory.

Kvyat hit Vettel twice in the opening three corners of last year’s grand prix in Sochi, with the incident leading to his demotion from Red Bull to its B-team, Toro Rosso, for the next race in Spain. Max Verstappen moved in the opposite direction and became F1’s youngest ever winner just two weeks later.

The incident had a profound effect on Kvyat, who took a long time to bounce back to form, eventually finding his feet in the closing stages of the season.

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Russia is Sebastian – as in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it’s my hobby!” Kvyat joked in Toro Rosso’s Russian Grand Prix preview.

“Okay, come on, you all know I’m joking! Let’s get serious now… Maybe the first word that comes to mind should be ‘braking’ into Turn 1!

“This is always a special weekend for me as it’s my home race. I’ve had very good qualifyings there but I’ve never actually been able to put the perfect race together in Russia, so I’d like to achieve it this year.

“It’s so cool to race here, I always feel the strong support of the Russian fans and I want to make the most out of this backing and thank everyone with a strong performance.”

Russia joined the calendar back in 2014, and Kvyat – the nation’s second F1 driver after Vitaly Petrov – said the increase in awareness of the sport and rise in popularity has been noticeable.

“Since the first Russian GP back in 2014, Formula 1 in Russia has definitely grown a lot,” Kvyat said.

“To have our own race was a big step for the country and more and more fans attend every year, so you can see that the interest in the sport is much bigger!

“In 2015 I qualified in P5, which was my best qualifying result with Toro Rosso. It was quite a nice moment and I have very good memories from that day.

“The race wasn’t great, but then the following year the situation was the opposite, with not the strongest of qualis but with a decent race. This time I’m looking to be strong on both Saturday and Sunday.”

Tire pressure issues end Bahrain pole-man Bottas’ hopes of first F1 win

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Valtteri Bottas saw his hopes of taking a maiden Formula 1 victory in Bahrain on Sunday fade as tire pressure issues limited the Finn to third place at the checkered flag.

Bottas scored his first pole position in F1 on Saturday in qualifying, edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.023 seconds with his best lap.

Bottas retained his lead through the first stint of the race, but was unable to pull away as he struggled to manage his rear tires, creating a train of cars behind.

Bottas lost the lead after a slow pit stop, and ultimately had to let Hamilton pass him twice on-track to allow the Briton a shot at winning the race, leaving the ex-Williams driver third come the finish.

“It was a really tricky race for me, struggling with the pace all through the race. I think the first stint we found a bit of an issue with the tire pressures, that explains the rear end struggle,” Bottas said.

“But after that I was just rear limited and out of the tools on the steering wheel. It was just oversteering all through the race and that’s where the pace was slow, which is a real shame because for sure the target for today was a lot higher.”

Bottas admitted that he was disappointed to have been asked to let Hamilton pass him on two occasions in the race, but conceded that it was for the good of the team as it tried – and failed – to stop Sebastian Vettel winning for Ferrari.

“I’m a racing driver, so being told to let your teammate through is the worst thing you can ear. But there was potential for Lewis to catch Sebastian, so I understand the team’s decision,” Bottas said.

“Personally it’s hard, but what I have to find out is why we didn’t have the pace today.

Sainz: Everyone thought I was mad to start Chinese GP on slicks

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Carlos Sainz Jr. said his Toro Rosso engineers thought he was “completely mad” to start Sunday’s Formula 1 race in China on slick tires, only for the gamble to aid him en route to P7 at the finish.

Rain in the lead-up to the start in Shanghai prompted the majority of the field to start on intermediate tires, with parts of the track being wet on the installation laps to the grid.

Sainz opted to roll the dice and start on slicks, and although he dropped to the very back of the order on the first lap, conditions soon became perfect for dry tires, forcing the rest of the field to pit.

Sainz battled through to finish seventh, coming home behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers in a surprise result for Toro Rosso.

“What a race, I just don’t have words to describe it! On the grid I said I wanted to start the race on slick tires and everyone thought I was completely mad!” Sainz said.

“It sounds like a funny moment now, but when everyone took the blankets off the tires and my race engineer told me that we were the only ones the supersoft tire I doubted my decision.

“When you’re on the grid, about to start a race, and you take a tough decision like today’s, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders, knowing that you might have blown away a good result for the team… but I then said to myself: ‘Come on trust yourself, it’s the right thing to do!’

“I knew the start and the first four corners were going to be very tricky – and they certainly were! – but from Turn 6 onwards the track was fully dry and I felt confident – the gamble definitely paid off!

“But today’s result isn’t only thanks to this decision; it’s also down to the pace that we showed in damp conditions. After the safety car, I saw myself catching Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes in front and I got super excited.

“It was just an incredible race, I felt so comfortable in the car today and to finally cross the line in P7 is a great result – I’d like to thank the team for the whole weekend, we can all be very happy!”

The result sees Toro Rosso rise to fourth place in the constructors’ championship ahead of fellow midfield rivals Williams and Force India.

Sean Gelael set for Toro Rosso F1 tests in 2017

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Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael will play a part in this year’s in-season Formula 1 test running after agreeing a deal with Toro Rosso.

Gelael, 20, raced full-time in GP2 last year before the championship evolved into F2, scoring one podium finish in Austria.

The Indonesian driver also appeared in the final three rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship, scoring an LMP2 podium for Extreme Speed Motorsports in Shanghai.

Gelael will race in F2 this year with Arden, but will also get his first taste of F1 machinery in the upcoming tests for Toro Rosso.

All F1 teams will get four days of in-season running this year (two in Bahrain, two in Hungary following their respective races) as well as the traditional end-of-year test in Abu Dhabi.

Gelael will feature in all three for Toro Rosso, having undergone a seat fitting at Faenza earlier this week.

All F1 teams are required to allocate at least half of their in-season running to junior drivers who have made fewer than two grand prix starts.

Gelael will make his first appearance for Toro Rosso following the Bahrain Grand Prix, with running set to take place at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 18 and 19.