From GP3 to F1, it’s been quite a year for Daniil Kvyat

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It’s been an incredible 12 months for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The 20-year-old Russian has gone from racing in GP3, generally regarded as the third tier on the ladder to F1, to securing a drive with Red Bull Racing, the team that had won the last four world championships until 2014.

Kvyat’s debut season in F1 has been an impressive one, even if it hasn’t yielded a huge number of points. His performances have been good enough to secure him a drive at Red Bull for 2015 after Sebastian Vettel exercised his option to walk away from the team at the end of the season.

In fact, it was only at last year’s United States Grand Prix that Kvyat first took part in an F1 weekend session, running in FP1 for Toro Rosso in Austin. So how have things changed for him?

“It’s only one year since my debut here,” Kvyat said on Thursday in Austin. “It seems like not such a long period but many things have happened. Everything is happening fast, but I think it’s better than it happening slow.

“F1 teaches you everything in the fast and hard way. After a lot of races this year, I think I did mature in some way.”

Kvyat feels that, as with any racing series, he has been learning right the way through his debut Formula 1 season.

“Of course, in any category you have something to learn – in F1 as well,” he said. “In every category things like tires, fuel consumption, just driving the car more on the limit because it’s a different car.

“The same happened for me in F1. I just had to come here and learn all the details of this championship and do my best job. It’s looking quite okay.”

The Circuit of the Americas is a favorite track for many drivers, and Kvyat also likes the layout in Austin despite the immense challenge being posed.

“It’s cool. The first section is very flowing, very interesting, lots of high-speed corners,” he said. “Then there is a bit more of a twisty last sector where you have to be careful and not good too hard on everything.

“It’s very easy to overdrive. It’s an interesting track with an interesting layout. I enjoyed driving here last year and I will this year as well.”

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Even with half the purse and no fans, Indy 500 still has major team value

Indy 500 purse fans
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Even with reportedly half the purse and no fans in attendance, NTT IndyCar Series driver-owner Ed Carpenter believes it remains “absolutely critical” to hold the 104th Indy 500.

“Far and away it’s what makes and breaks our season as teams,” the Ed Carpenter Racing namesake told reporters during a Zoom media availability last week. “It’s the most important event to our partners. It 100 percent sucks not having fans there and not even being able to have the experience with our partners in full being there. But it’s necessary.

“We’ve got to look at all the hard decisions now of what we have to do to be in a position to have fans in 2021. It’s critical for the health of the teams that we have this race to make sure we have teams back here next year. That sounds a little dramatic, but that’s the reality.

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“We live in not only a very volatile world right now, but our industry and motorsport in general, it’s not an easy business to operate. When you lose your marquee event, it’s a lot different than looking at losing Portland on the schedule or Barber. They’re in totally different atmospheres as far as the importance to us and our partners.”

Robin Miller reported on RACER.com that IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske told team owners last week the purse for the postponed Indianapolis 500 was slashed from $15 to $7.5 million. Miller reported holding the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) would be a $20 million hit to the bottom line.

Carpenter still is supportive of Penske’s “outstanding job” of leading the series through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Even with a 50 percent purse reduction, the Indy 500 remains the linchpin of teams’ economic viability.

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The schedule has taken many hits with the cancellation of races at Barber Motorsports Park, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca and Toronto, and another race weekend doubleheader at Mid-Ohio has been indefinitely postponed.

That leaves the 2020 slate at 12 confirmed races of an original 17, which has raised questions about how many races teams need to fulfill sponsor obligations.

“It’s a moving target,” said Carpenter, who announced the U.S. Space Force as a new sponsor for the Indy 500. “I think we’ve been pretty blessed as a team with the level of commitment of our partners and their understanding of COVID-19 and the impact on our schedule, our contracts.

“All of it is out of our control, out of the series’ control, the promoter’s control. At the end of the day is there a firm number (of races) I can give? No. But definitely every one that we lose, it does make it harder to continue having those conversations.

I think everyone’s as confident as you can be right now with what we have in front of us with what’s remaining on the schedule. Things are so fluid, it changes day-to-day, let alone week-to-week. We just have to take it as it comes. Right now the focus is on the 500 and maximizing this month to the best we possibly can given the situation.”

That’ll be hard this month for Carpenter, who grew up in Indianapolis and is the stepson of Tony George, whose family owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades.

Having spent a lifetime around the Brickyard, Carpenter will feel the ache of missing fans as he races in his 17th Indy 500.

Ed Carpenter, shown racing his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway last month, led a race-high 65 laps and finished second in the 2018 Indy 500 (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“Over that time you develop relationships that are centered around standing outside of your garage in Gasoline Alley,” he said. “It stinks, it sucks that we don’t get to share that passion we all have that is the Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately it’s the reality we’re in right now.

I think this is the best that we can do unfortunately. Without a doubt it’s going to be a different environment. You’re going to be missing the sounds and a lot of the sights and colors. For sure I’ve thought about it. It’s going to be a different morning, different lead-in to the race. After 16 of them, you have a cadence and anticipation for the buildup. That’s all going to be different this year.

“I’m confident it’s not going to affect the type of show we put on or the excitement and how aggressive we are fighting for an Indy 500 win. It’s still going to mean the same thing. We’re just not going to have our fans to celebrate with after the fact. But it’s going to be historic.”