Daniil Kvyat, the 25-year-old Russian driver is back in Formula 1 and he is just about to complete his strongest season in the very pinnacle of motorsport. We at Paddock magazine asked Daniil a few straightforward questions.
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Daniil, it’s nice to see you back in Formula 1 – some great performances on track this year. What are your impressions so far?
I’m pretty pleased about how things are going. Especially the race in Barcelona was a good example of how quick we can be when we get it all together. Excellent performance on Saturday, even better on Sunday. We were the quickest team in the midfield by far, so it’s all good. I’m happy to be here, I’m pleased, I’m comfortable, I like the team.
How good is that Honda engine at the back of your car? Pierre Gasly said a few minutes ago that it can be on the level of a Ferrari very soon.
I think we don’t really have a chance to see exactly where we stand against some other team. I don’t really know, it’s up to the engineers determine what the precise numbers are. However, we’re definitely closer to the very top engines than before. I think the more performance we can get the better. Honda has given us enough power to fight in the midfield pretty well against any other engine. We’ve been always fighting on the straights and there’s no big speed deficit; it’s been reliable as well so to answer your question – we’re pretty happy with Honda.
You lost your seat in Formula 1 earlier – did you manage to find the reasons what possibly went wrong in the earlier stages?
Actually, I wasn’t thinking about it too much. The past is the past, and we turned the page. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy how things are going now. I’m very comfortable here in this environment and I enjoy every race, so I’ll just focus on what’s right in front of me.
We’re definitely closer to the very top engines than before.
Did you say yes to Toro Rosso immediately when they called you?
Pretty much so, yes. I didn’t think twice or too long. [smiles]
Did you have other options as well outside of Formula 1?
I received several interesting offers, but when the first important possibility came, which was more than 50% sure, I said yes immediately. And it was Toro Rosso. There were also many chances outside of Formula 1, however, I felt like my place so far is still in this sport.
You experienced how life is going at Ferrari as you were their development driver. Can you compare how life is like at Ferrari compared to Red Bull?
It’s quite difficult to compare, to tell you the truth. I enjoy Italy a lot as I’ve lived there for a very long time, so I’m fluent in the language and I’m very familiar with the culture, therefore for me it was great to be there. I developed some very sincere friendships with various people at Ferrari, which I really value. It’s also hard for me to compare the two teams because I’ve already raced for Red Bull but I haven’t raced for Ferrari yet. They’re different, but in the end, I think it wouldn’t be fair or ethical for me to make such a comparison.
I think your main job concentrated on the simulator at Ferrari. We know that Red Bull has a quite modern machine. Is this the case at Ferrari as well?
I had plenty of work at Ferrari because I was their main simulator driver. I felt that the job we did had a good impact on the performance of the car. For me personally, it was an absolute pleasure to work for Ferrari last year. It was exciting to experience a change – we were so-so on Friday, but then on Saturday we got the pole. I felt that this was a result of honest work from the whole team because we really worked hard in the simulator.
In my view, simulator work is getting more and more important nowadays. Would you agree?
Yes, I think it’s increasingly important because obviously testing is very limited, so teams need to try and find the best way possible to test new parts and help the engineers as much as possible. I think simulators are quite impressive in Formula 1. However, personally, I don’t really like it as much as real driving, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. [smiles]
Honda has given us enough power to fight in the midfield pretty well against any other engine.
You’ve mentioned earlier that you are fluent in Italian. I’ve read yesterday that you can speak Finnish as well. Is that true?
It’s a bit of an exaggeration – I do know quite a few words, but speaking the language… No, I can’t do that yet. I’ve been in a Finnish team for a long time and my trainer used to be Finnish, so I definitely know enough to keep a very simple conversation about racing, however nothing more.
But would you say you have a special talent for foreign languages?
I think I could learn eight or nine languages, but there’s no need for that so far. I’m fluent in four languages, and for me, it’s entirely enough. Sometimes I mix up the words, so if I started to learn more languages, I think it would make a mess in my head.
Which was the hardest one to learn?
Maybe Italian, as I needed to learn everything very quickly because I went to an Italian school and I had to catch up. It was difficult back then, but once it clicks, everything becomes so easy right away.
Finally, I would like to congratulate you on the arrival of your baby. Will she be a racing driver?
Well, I hope she won’t be a racer. [laughs] I don’t really think this sport is for little children, so I wouldn’t want her to race as a kid. She can definitely do golf, tennis or absolutely anything else, but I would advise her not to pick Formula 1.
The W series has just kicked off, are you following that series?
There are some names which are familiar to me in the W series. It’s good because it gives girls who are passionate about racing a great opportunity – they can do what they love. They have a solid racing competition there.