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.