Ex Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat has been handed a lifeline to stay in Formula 1 by Ferrari, who have announced the Russian driver will be their development driver for the 2018 season.
The Scuderia team have not announced exactly what they have in mind for Kvyat’s duties this season. But he will join the likes of Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi in the Ferrari reserve stable. Leclerc has a full-time seat at Sauber next year, while Giovinazzi is the Swiss team’s third driver.
The surprise announcement comes three months after it looked like Kvyat’s F1 career was over, following his axing by Toro Rosso after the US Grand Prix. The Russian driver has suffered a roller coaster of a career during his time with both Toro Rosso, and their senior team Red Bull as a part of the Red Bull Young Driver Program.
Kvyat joined the Red Bull Young Driver programme in 2010, quickly making his way up the ranks and impressing on the way. He won the GP3 series in 2013 and at 19 years old he made his Formula 1 debut in 2014 with Toro Rosso alongside Jean Eric Vergne.
At the end of the 2014 season he was called up to the senior team, Red Bull, to replace Sebastian Vettel who was off to Ferrari. The Russian then became the team mate of Daniel Ricciardo for the 2015 season.
During the 2015 season, which was his best season to date, he managed to secure second place in the Hungarian Grand Prix in a largely uncompetitive Red Bull. He finished the season seventh, ahead of his team mate Ricciardo.
He followed this performance up in 2016 with a podium at the Chinese Grand Prix, with a move many saw as daring into the first corner on the driver he replaced at Red Bull, Vettel. However, from here his career took a downturn.
At the next race in Russia, his home Grand Prix, Kvyat clashed twice with Vettel on the opening lap. Sending the four-time world champion into a swearing, blinding rage which subsequently saw him complain to Red Bull. The team decided to promote their wonderkid Max Verstappen to the senior team for the Spanish Grand Prix onwards. Leading to Kvyat getting demoted back to Toro Rosso.
Upon his demotion back to Toro Rosso, many people feared for the mental health of Kvyat following several comments to the media showing the stress the young driver was under. Ultimately after putting in some solid performances he was allowed to stay for the 2017 season with Toro Rosso, though despite his improvement, Kvyat was heavily out-scored by new team mate Carlos Sainz.
The 2017 season went from bad to worse for the Russian. Following a string of on track incidents in 2017, and failures to meet expectation due to driver error and car failures, Kvyat was “rested” in favour of Pierre Gasly for the Malaysian Grand Prix, and Japanese Grand Prix. He returned for the US Grand Prix, replacing Gasly who had Super-Formula duties. Although Kvyat described it his “best race of the season” he was still dropped in favour of Gasly for the next race in Brazil. And was dropped all together from Toro Rosso and the Red Bull Young Driver program.
Kvyat’s will be following in the footsteps of his ex team mate and fellow Toro Rosso exile Vergne, who was previously a development driver at Ferrari following his departure from the Red Bull Young Driver program and Toro Rosso in 2014.
The announcement also rules out the prospect of Kvyat, who has two podiums and 133 points, taking the 2018 Williams seat. He had been one of the frontrunners for the Williams drive, which is now likely set to be taken by fellow countryman Sergey Sirotkin. The 22-year-old, appears to have beaten off competition from Robert Kubica to replace Felipe Massa.