SOCHI, Russia (AP) Daniil Kvyat will be hoping it’s third time lucky at Toro Rosso.
The Russian driver is making a surprise return to Formula 1 in 2019 with the team which dropped him last year for Pierre Gasly, who in turn moves up to the main Red Bull team.
It’s the third time Kvyat has joined Toro Rosso, first in 2014 as a rookie, then in 2016 after being demoted from Red Bull following crashes and poor form. Once one of the most exciting young drivers in F1, he’s now 24 with a patchy record, something acknowledged by team principal Franz Tost.
“Daniil is a high skilled driver with fantastic natural speed, which he has proven several times in his career,” Tost said in a statement. “There were some difficult situations he had to face in the past, but I’m convinced that having had time to mature as a person away from the races will help him show his undeniable capabilities on track.”
While out of a race seat, Kvyat was working as a development driver for Ferrari, but says he’s still sharp.
“Even if my duties were primarily simulator based, I’ve learned a lot, and I now feel stronger and better prepared than when I left Toro Rosso,” he said. “I never gave up hope of racing again, I am still young and I have kept in good shape to always be prepared in case another opportunity presented itself.”
Kvyat’s announcement was good news for fans at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, since he’s the country’s most successful F1 driver with two podium finishes and 133 career points. It could mean two Russians on the grid next year if Sergey Sirotkin keeps his spot at Williams.
Returning to a driver it so publicly cast aside last year shows how Red Bull’s well of promising young drivers appears to have dried up, partly because of tighter requirements for an F1 license.
The young driver program doesn’t have any obvious candidates with the results to earn an F1 license for next year, still a pressing issue given Brendon Hartley’s return of just two points this year alongside Gasly in the second Toro Rosso.
Former Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein is reportedly a contender to take over Hartley’s seat for 2019, though the New Zealander is hoping to stay.