Birthplace: Ufa, Russia
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Daniil Kvyat gained a surprise promotion to Toro Rosso’s F1 squad for the 2014 season.
The Russian driver made his way to Formula One as part of Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme. He was chosen ahead of fellow Red Bull junior drivers Antonio Felix da Costa and Carlos Sainz Jnr to get the chance.
Toro Rosso had given Kvyat his first run in an F1 car at the Silverstone Young Drivers’ Test in July 2013. Just three months later he was confirmed as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement for the following season. That made Kvyat the second Russian driver to gain a place in F1 following Vitaly Petrov’s lead.
Kvyat was born in Ufa, 1,000km east of the Russian capital Moscow. He began karting at the age of eight and by 2010 he’d made the transition to car racing, competing in Formula BMW championships.
Following a stint in New Zealand’s Toyota Racing Series he returned to Europe to compete in Formula Renault 2.0. He ended a successful debut season in the category second in the Northern European Cup, behind Sainz Jnr, and also placed third in the Eurocup series.
In 2012 he claimed the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS title following a controversial final-round clash with Norman Nato. Kvyat went into the final race at the Circuit de Catalunya three points ahead in the championship, but when Nato tried to pass him for the lead on lap three the pair collided and retired, handing Kvyat the title.
The Eurocup championship was also settled in a final-round decider at the Circuit de Catalunya, but this time Kvyat missed out. This was despite title rival Stoffel Vandoorne retiring early on, leaving Kvyat needing only to convert his pole position start into a podium finish to claim the crown.
However Kvyat was handed a drive-through penalty for changing his tyres too late on the grid before the race started as the field hedged their bets on a damp track. Worse, the wet weather tyres he had changed to proved unsuitable as the track dried and he fell to eighth at the chequered flag. Although Kvyat had scored seven wins to his rival’s four, the more consistent Vandoorne prevailed by ten points.
For 2013 the Red Bull-backed driver conducted a dual campaign in the F1-supporting GP3 series and as a guest driver in the European Formula Three championship, in which he was ineligible for points.
After being confirmed as Toro Rosso’s new driver Kvyat won the GP3 title in the next race in Abu Dhabi, beating rival Facu Ragalia with one race to spare.
Kvyat also made a successful debut in European F3, taking a podium finish in his first weekend at Hockenheim. He returned to take three pole positions and three second place finishes at the Red Bull Ring, then scored a victory at Zandvoort, one of only two races that year won by a Volkswagen-powered driver.
Kvyat acquitted himself well with his promotion to F1 and had already earned a continued stay at Toro Rosso when the opportunity for further advancement arose. When Sebastian Vettel decided to leave Red Bull for Ferrari, Kvyat was promoted in place of the world champion, and instead of his more experienced team mate Jean-Eric Vergne.
Although Vergne scored more points during the course of the season, Kvyat’s qualifying record was better. And both drivers suffered from the chronic unreliability of the STR9 and, in particular, the Renault power unit.
Nonetheless Kvyat scored points on his debut in Australia, becoming the youngest driver ever to do so, and reached Q3 on his first visit to Monaco.
Extra attention surrounded him when F1 made its first visit to Russia and Kvyat delivered with his best qualifying performance yet, lining up fifth. However in the race both drivers struggled with their tyres.
However by then it had already become known that he would be returning in an even more competitive car next year.
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