F1: Toro Rosso confirms Kvyat to return to F1 in 2019

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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.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III