There has been a lot of attention this year on Red Bull junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr, however another young driver on Red Bull’s books is also quietly having a good year. With the addition of a Russian Grand Prix in 2014, the support of the Russian crowds for a Russian driver would be massive, and the rise of Russian driver Daniil Kvyat might just come at the right time.
Daniil Kvyat is still only 19 years of age, and heralds from Ufa, in the Bashkorostan region of Russia, however he now resides in Italy. He has only been racing single-seater cars since 2010, and joined the Red Bull Junior Team in the same year whilst competing in the Formula BMW Pacific series as a guest driver. He won twice but wasn’t eligible for points. He did finish 10th that year with a solitary podium finish driving for the EuroInternational outfit in the Formula BMW Europe series, his first as a full-member of the Red Bull family. He also made some appearances in the Formula Renault UK Winter Series and the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series driving for Koiranen Motorsport.
2011 saw a more confident Daniil Kvyat competing in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, the Formula Renault 2.0 North European Championship (NEC), and the Formula Renault UK Finals series, all for Koiranen Motorsport. In the Eurocup, he won twice in 14 rounds, at Spa and the Nurburgring, and finished third in the championship behind Champion Robin Frijns and runner-up Carlos Sainz Jr, but ahead of Will Stevens and Stoffel Vandoorne. In the NEC Championship, he won 7 times in 20 races, including all three Monza races at the end of the year, but finished P2 in the championship, again behind Sainz Jr. He finished P3 in the UK Finals series behind Oliver Rowland and Dan Wells. During the winter he raced in New Zealand in the Toyota Racing Series with Victory Motor Racing, winning once and finishing 5th in the standings after 12 races.
Kvyat continued with Koiranen Motorsports into 2012, concentrating on the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series and the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS series, the former Swiss Formula Renault Championship. He won half of the 14 races in the Eurocup, but was pipped to the title by Stoffel Vandoorne by a mere ten points. However he also won half of the 14 races in the ALPS series, but this time won the championship by three points from Norman Nato. A championship well deserved, having won 14 out of 28 races in the calendar year.
So onto 2013. Under Red Bull guidance, Kvyat, along with Carlos Sainz Jr, have been placed in the GP3 Series at MW Arden, a team run by Mark Webber and Christian Horner, both of F1 Red Bull Racing fame. His maiden win at Spa was well deserved, just a race weekend behind his first podium in Hungary. He currently sits fifth in the championship, and remains the championship hunt with two race weekends of the season remaining. Kvyat has also run a parallel campaign in the European Formula 3 Championship as a guest driver, and has finished on the podium 4 times. He also got a run in a Scuderia Toro Rosso at the Young Driver’s test at Silverstone.
So how good is Daniil Kvyat? Red Bull obviously think highly of the young Russian, and continue to guide his promising career for a fourth year. He has proved he has what it takes to win races and to win championships. However, the Red Bull young driver programme has its risks. With so many good drivers part of it, and with Kvyat apparently behind both Carlos Sainz Jr and Antonio Felix da Costa in the pecking order, it could mean a long time waiting for a break in Formula 1. It could be the case that Red Bull allow him to race at another team (like they did with Daniel Ricciardo at HRT in 2011), or it might come down to the Russian driver having to leave the Red Bull family to get his break. He could be lucky and have a Toro Rosso drive arrive at his feet if Felix da Costa and/or Sainz Jr get into the main Red Bull team in a short amount of time. The talent is there, he can overtake and defend well as proven in GP3 this season.
The future is bright for Daniil Kvyat, and he could be Russia’s best ever racing driver, certainly in Formula 1.