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Kvyat growing in confidence at Toro Rosso, qualifying P7 in Baku

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Daniil Kvyat made no secret of his delight after qualifying seventh for the European Grand Prix in Baku, marking his best Saturday result since re-joining Toro Rosso.

Kvyat was demoted back to Red Bull’s junior Formula 1 team for the Spanish Grand Prix in May, swapping places with Max Verstappen.

The Russian driver struggled in Monaco and Canada, but appeared to find his feet on Saturday in Azerbaijan by reaching the top-10 shoot-out for pole position.

Kvyat ended the session seventh-fastest, just half a second off Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in P5, and will start the race sixth thanks to Sergio Perez’s five-place grid penalty.

“It was a good day, I’m quite happy!” Kvyat said.

“We managed to get some clean laps, something which isn’t easy to do here in Baku and a trouble-free qualifying session is definitely what I needed.

“It was tricky out there as the track was changing all the time and you had to go in line with the evolution, but we managed it well and did a good job.

“We will now try and do the same tomorrow – there will definitely be plenty of opportunities and we will have to be very alive and make sure we take them. I have to say I enjoyed today’s quali quite a lot.

“I’ve been feeling more and more confident with the car and to start tomorrow’s race from P7 is a positive result.”

Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. struggled to match Kvyat for pace, finishing 13th in Q2.

“A bit of a disappointing day for me – it’s a shame, because we had a decent Friday and I was feeling good,” Sainz said.

“We had new brakes on the car today and unfortunately I wasn’t feeling as confident as yesterday under braking.

“Maybe this could be a reason why in qualifying I just didn’t manage to extract the most out of the car… and if you also add the fact that there was a lot of traffic, in the end it wasn’t possible to get into Q3.

“Let’s see what we are capable of doing tomorrow, hopefully we can do another good comeback – it can be a very crazy race here, so I’m convinced that with a clever strategy and quick pit-stops we can manage it!

“All in all, we need to stay optimistic because tomorrow can certainly be a better day.”

The European Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Sunday.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.