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Kvyat relishing home GP in Russia, one year after Vettel clash

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Daniil Kvyat is relishing his fourth home appearance in Formula 1 at next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, one year on from the clash with Sebastian Vettel that changed his career trajectory.

Kvyat hit Vettel twice in the opening three corners of last year’s grand prix in Sochi, with the incident leading to his demotion from Red Bull to its B-team, Toro Rosso, for the next race in Spain. Max Verstappen moved in the opposite direction and became F1’s youngest ever winner just two weeks later.

The incident had a profound effect on Kvyat, who took a long time to bounce back to form, eventually finding his feet in the closing stages of the season.

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Russia is Sebastian – as in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it’s my hobby!” Kvyat joked in Toro Rosso’s Russian Grand Prix preview.

“Okay, come on, you all know I’m joking! Let’s get serious now… Maybe the first word that comes to mind should be ‘braking’ into Turn 1!

“This is always a special weekend for me as it’s my home race. I’ve had very good qualifyings there but I’ve never actually been able to put the perfect race together in Russia, so I’d like to achieve it this year.

“It’s so cool to race here, I always feel the strong support of the Russian fans and I want to make the most out of this backing and thank everyone with a strong performance.”

Russia joined the calendar back in 2014, and Kvyat – the nation’s second F1 driver after Vitaly Petrov – said the increase in awareness of the sport and rise in popularity has been noticeable.

“Since the first Russian GP back in 2014, Formula 1 in Russia has definitely grown a lot,” Kvyat said.

“To have our own race was a big step for the country and more and more fans attend every year, so you can see that the interest in the sport is much bigger!

“In 2015 I qualified in P5, which was my best qualifying result with Toro Rosso. It was quite a nice moment and I have very good memories from that day.

“The race wasn’t great, but then the following year the situation was the opposite, with not the strongest of qualis but with a decent race. This time I’m looking to be strong on both Saturday and Sunday.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”