Daniil Kvyat made no secret of his frustration after qualifying a lowly 19th for the German Grand Prix on Saturday, continuing his disappointing run of form.
Since being demoted to a seat at Toro Rosso from parent team Red Bull for the Spanish Grand Prix, Kvyat has scored just two points, struggling to match the pace of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Kvyat’s return to Toro Rosso was facilitated following two crashes in the Russian Grand Prix, leading to questions about how he was handling the pressure of racing for Red Bull.
Kvyat cast a despondent figure after qualifying, having asked his team over the radio after the session: “What the f*** is going on?”, venting his frustration.
“Little bit of a crazy lap, with many mistakes,” Kvyat said of his qualifying lap.
”I don’t feel great. It’s not a good period for me and it seems like it’s never-ending now. I’m trying every weekend, but nothing is working so far.
“It’s not like I’m having the most pleasant time in the world, it’s not easy but it’s not an excuse.”
Kvyat told TV reporters after the session that he needed to go away and refocus over the summer break following Hockenheim, but said that his real issue lies with the STR11 car.
“I don’t know what I need, I don’t know. I just need that feeling from the car. If it comes back I should be much better,” Kvyat said.
“I don’t know what’s going on. It seems like my window of working is very narrow, I need to work on expanding it, but it’s not easy.
“I feel like solutions are not far away, even if it looks really bad on paper. We had a good Friday yesterday for the first time in a while.
“Tomorrow is the race, we need to try to fight our way back. The pace was not bad on Friday in the long runs.
“I have not much to lose anyway, so I’ll just try to go for it tomorrow.”
Kvyat’s future with Toro Rosso looks increasingly uncertain after the recent upturn in form of Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly.
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost previously said he wanted to keep Kvyat for 2017, but with Gasly winning two GP2 races in the past three weeks and completing a tire test for Red Bull, he looks more and more likely to become Sainz’s teammate next season.
Kanaan’s “Ironman Streak” of 317 consecutive starts would have concluded with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15. That race was postponed, and the races that followed have been canceled or rescheduled later in the year. The season tentatively is scheduled to start June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the reason for the tentative nature of this year’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule.
Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, started the season with a limited schedule for A.J. Foyt Racing in the No. 14 Chevrolet. That schedule included all five oval races, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.
A silver lining for Kanaan is that this year’s trip to Iowa Speedway will be a doubleheader, instead of a single oval contest. His schedule has grown from five to six races for 2020, should the season start on time with the June 6 contest at Texas Motor Speedway and the additional race at Iowa.
“I’m really happy that IndyCar has been very proactive about the schedule and keeping us posted with the plans,” Kanaan told NBCSports.com Tuesday afternoon from his home in Indianapolis. “I’m double happy that now with Iowa being a doubleheader, I’m doing six races instead of five.”
Kanaan’s “Last Lap” is something that many fans and competitors in IndyCar want to celebrate. He has been a fierce foe on the track but also a valued friend outside the car to many of his fellow racers.
He also has been quite popular with fans and likely is the most popular Indianapolis 500 driver of his generation.
“I hope it’s not T.K.’s last 500,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “I was hoping T.K. would get a full season. That has changed. His first race of what was going to his regular season was going to be the 500. Hopefully, that plays out.
“You have to look at T.K. for who he is, what he has accomplished and what he has done for the sport. He has been massive for the Indianapolis 500, for the city of Indianapolis to the whole culture of the sport. He is a legend of the sport.
“We had our differences early in our career and had problems in 2002 and 2003 and 2004 when we were battling for championships. We fought for race wins and championships in the 2000s. I’ve been on both sides, where he was fighting against me in a championship or where he was fighting with me to go for a championship. He is a hell of a competitor; a fantastic person.
“I hope it’s not his last, but if it is, I hope it’s an extremely successful one for him this season.”
Even before Kanaan joined Chip Ganassi Racing, Dixon admitted he couldn’t help but be drawn to Kanaan’s personality.
“T.K. is a very likable person,” Dixon said. “You just have to go to dinner with the guy once, and you understand why that is. The ups and downs were a competitive scenario where he was helping you for a win or helping someone else for a win. There was never a dislike or distrust. We always got along very well.
“We are very tight right now and really close. He is a funny-ass dude. He has always been a really good friend for me, that’s for sure.”
Back in 2003 when both had come to the old Indy Racing League after beginning their careers in CART, the two drivers were racing hard for the lead at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 13, 2003. They were involved in a hard crash in Turn 2 that left Kanaan broken up with injuries. IRL officials penalized Dixon for “aggressive driving.” Dixon had to sit out the first three days of practice for the next race – the 2003 Indianapolis 500.
Kanaan recovered in time and did not miss any racing. He started second and finished third in that year’s Indy 500.
“We were racing hard and going for the win,” Dixon recalled of the Motegi race. “It was a crucial part of the season. Everybody has to be aggressive. I respect Tony for that. He was not letting up. That is what I always saw with Tony, how hard the guy will push. He will go to the absolute limit, and that is why he was inspiring and why he was a successful driver.
“Those moments are blips. You might not talk to the guy for a week, but then you are back on track. T.K. is very close with our family and we are with his.”
This season, because of highly unusual circumstances, T.K.’s IndyCar career will last for one more race than previously scheduled.