While Max Verstappen’s promotion has been all the “rapid ascension rage” in recent months, flashback 12 months ago and there was another young driver Red Bull was grooming who made an impressive Grand Prix weekend debut: Russian Daniil Kvyat.
Perhaps overlooked a bit during last year’s Austin weekend as Caterham’s Alexander Rossi had a go at his home Grand Prix in free practice one, Kvyat was one of several other Friday-only drivers getting to participate (Marussia had Rodolfo Gonzalez as well).
The outing was Kvyat’s, then 19, first on a GP weekend with Toro Rosso. He stepped into Jean-Eric Vergne’s chassis and acquitted himself very well – only 0.202 of a second off Daniel Ricciardo’s pace in the other Toro Rosso, and actually ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.
“I have very good memories of Austin last year,” Kvyat said in the team’s pre-race release. “It was a very exciting time for me and now it’s hard to believe that already one year has gone by since that weekend in America. I feel like a veteran now! It’s a special place for me because that’s where I first was part of a Formula One Grand Prix weekend, even if it was only driving the Friday morning session.”
While within Ricciardo’s time, Kvyat says now he wouldn’t be impressed to be that close. He wants more, obviously, and to be ahead – and in 2015 he’ll have that chance as Ricciardo’s teammate at Red Bull, replacing Vettel.
“I was reasonably quick there, maybe a couple of tenths off Daniel (Ricciardo) although I wouldn’t be happy with that this time round. It will be good to go back there therefore,” he said.
Kvyat praised the track and American culture itself, after just coming off his first home Grand Prix in Sochi a few weeks ago.
“The track itself is very nice, fast with lots of challenging high speed corners, which I like,” he said. “The track has plenty of up and downs with the first section featuring some corners that remind me of Silverstone. I enjoyed going to America last year and I’m looking forward to eating some steak!”
Kvyat has scored eight points this season and generally impressed in the Toro Rosso.