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.”