German Grand Prix – Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat thanked Helmut Marko for organising ‘many rollercoasters’ throughout his career at the Hockenheim press call.
Daniil Kvyat finished on the podium in third place in Sunday’s chaotic wet and dry German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, meaning he claimed Toro Rosso’s first podium since Sebastian Vettel’s victory at Monza in 2008.
It was a frantic and emotional 24 hours in the life of the Russian driver, who also revealed on the podium that his partner Kelly Piquet gave the couple their first child together on Saturday night.
The high of the podium place has come after three years of turmoil for Kvyat, who has enjoyed a redemption arc to rival some Hollywood movies over the past few months.
Speaking at the press conference for the top three drivers at the German race, Kvyat spoke about how he felt the chains of the last three years are finally off his shoulders: “It was an incredible few years in my life. A lot of realisations in my life because it was sometimes tough times and I thought maybe Formula 1 was over for me, and maybe I thought, especially podium, I would never ever have it again, but life just proves that if you work hard and never give up, things are possible. I think that’s exactly what happened today.”
“Even the race was tough for everyone, I managed to keep it cool and just… all these three difficult years, just felt like they crashed from my shoulders finally. I lost these chains today. It was hard work to reach this moment and hopefully I can send the message out there that I’m ready now to fight for this kind of moment on a consistent basis – and there is no stronger message than a podium like this.”
With race winner Max Verstappen, P2 Sebastian Vettel and Kvyat all being products of Helmut Marko’s ruthlessly tough Red Bull driver academy, Kvyat spoke about how he appreciates the personal improvement Marko has made him go through and that he wouldn’t be in his position without the Red Bull boss: “Helmut yeah, so many rollercoasters he organised for me in my career! Maybe more than them [Verstappen & Vettel]!”
“Yeah, a special person in my life, of course our lives now, I guess. And, well, thanks to him very big time we are who we are and the personal improvement, the professional improvement I made thanks to him is huge – and obviously I appreciate what he’s done for me. And I’m here thanks to him. I think the most relevant story today, it was raining I think once at 7am at a test and I was maybe three or four seconds off in my first wet test in Formula BMW at the time and he said: “So, you’re quite useless in the wet,” and just hung up on me!”
In 2016, an underperforming and erratic Kvyat was replaced at Red Bull Racing in favour of the young hotshot Max Verstappen. With his confidence dented as Kvyat was demoted back to Toro Rosso, his driving became ever more erratic and he eventually wore out the patience of Red Bull and Helmut Marko, the man responsible for driver management within the Red Bull teams.
At the end of 2017, Kvyat was dropped entirely and found a new home at Ferrari as a simulator driver while Toro Rosso replaced him with Brendon Hartley. However, Daniel Ricciardo’s shock move to Renault meant Red Bull needed to find someone to slot in at Toro Rosso again for 2019 as they decided against continuing with Hartley, meaning Kvyat got a second chance.
Since then, he’s received nothing but praise from his bosses, with Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost highlighting the Russian driver’s increased maturity and calmness.
“It’s fantastic for the team – 11 years since the last podium, which Sebastian did in 2008.” said Kvyat. “I think everyone is very happy today and we have to be happy. From my side of course I would dedicate this podium to my girlfriend Kelly and to my daughter.”