Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost says Daniil Kvyat deserves his latest chance to impress in Formula 1 after living “through a difficult time” having previously been dropped by the team.
The Russian has made a surprise return to the sport for 2019 after Daniel Ricciardo’s bombshell move to Renault forced Red Bull to promote Pierre Gasly from its junior team, with Kvyat being drafted in to head Toro Rosso’s new-look driver line-up alongside Alexander Albon.
Kvyat made his F1 debut in 2014 and made the step up to Red Bull the following season, before being demoted back to the Faenza squad just four races into the 2016 campaign to pave the way for rising star Max Verstappen. He was ultimately dropped by the team and the Red Bull programme altogether in 2017 after a poor run.
While Tost admitted Kvyat’s promotion to Red Bull came too soon, he insisted the 24-year-old’s talent is “undeniable” and believes he will benefit from having had “time to mature” away from F1.
“I always say that a young driver needs two to three years to understand and deliver in the complicated world of F1 but Daniil showed his natural speed from the very beginning,” said Tost.
“When the contingency required his move to Red Bull Racing, it seemed that he could be ready for the challenge. He showed some very good performances but to perform under pressure is always a challenge, now we can say with hindsight it was just too early.
“He had to live through a difficult time when he joined us again in 2016 – it was psychologically tough, but no one has ever doubted his driving skills. I strongly believe he deserves another chance in Formula 1 and I feel the best is yet to come from his side.”
Tost also expects Kvyat to be instrumental in helping to support new teammate Albon, who will make his F1 bow with Toro Rosso this year after finishing third in the 2018 Formula 2 Championship. The British-Thai driver faces a daunting task, having never driven F1 machinery before.
“Alex will have a lot to learn, like any newcomer in Formula 1, but he certainly proved himself in the lower categories like European Formula 3, GP3 and especially in Formula 2, where he was able to win races,” added Tost.
“In the second half of last year’s F2 championship, he impressed with a lot of overtaking manoeuvres and that’s what convinced us he is the right driver to get on board.
“With Daniil on the other side of the garage, he has an F1 experienced driver with whom he will be learning a lot from, along with the support of the team around him. Scuderia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young and competitive drivers.”