Kvyat learned of Red Bull demotion while watching Game of Thrones

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Daniil Kvyat has revealed that he found out about his shock demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso for the Spanish Grand Prix while watching Game of Thrones.

For a series that is filled with drama and characters being bumped off when you least expect it, it’s incredibly fitting.

Was this ‘The Red Bull Wedding’?

Last week, Red Bull announced that Kvyat would be replaced by Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen for the remainder of the season, with the Russian moving in the opposite direction.

Thursday’s FIA press conference proved to be a fascinating affair as Kvyat was joined by Verstappen and new teammate Toro Rosso Carlos Sainz Jr.

Predictably, the majority of the questions were directed towards Kvyat and Verstappen, but both handled themselves in an incredibly grown-up manner, showing a maturity greater than their collective 40 years.

Kvyat admitted that the news had come as a shock, but he chose to look on the bright side of the demotion, believing he still has a chance to prove himself with Toro Rosso.

“The decision was a bit of a shock also for myself, but it is what it is at the moment,” Kvyat said.

“I’ve always been giving my answers on the track and nothing will change.

“There are 17 races remaining. I come back to Toro Rosso, the team I raced for in 2017, the team I like a lot, the team that the last few days gave me a very warm welcome.

“The goals are clear for the team and myself. I’ll be pushing to the absolute limits on track and be giving my answers there.

“If you look at what happened three weeks ago, we were standing on the podium. Then suddenly there were a few decisions made around. I do my best possible now with the team I am with and that’s Toro Rosso.

“I’ve done everything correctly until now and nothing will change from my side.”

Kvyat said that he did not receive much of an explanation for the decision, and feels that using the word ‘dropped’ is unfair.

“There was no real explanation to be honest,” Kvyat said. “If the bosses want something to happen, they make it happen. Simple as that.

“I think the word ‘dropped’ is a bit heavy because I still get my chance from Red Bull in Toro Rosso. I think it’s a positive thing.

“Like I said, I feel like I’ve done everything for the time. I’ve been bringing the points, I’ve been bringing the development work. I think it’s a question for other people who made this decision. They can give a better answer for that.

“I really don’t see any reason. It’s a question for them.”

Kvyat then revealed that he received a phone call from Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko regarding the decision while he was watching Game of Thrones.

“I was laying on the sofa, I was watching a TV series,” Kvyat said. “Then a phone call comes saying ‘Well, we have some news for you.’

“I think it was about a 20 minute talk. I wanted to have a lot of explanation. I got to know many interesting details, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Dr. Marko made the phone call.

“I went back to bed to finish my TV series. That’s all.”

Time will tell whether Kvyat can do a Jon Snow with his F1 career…

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds