Christian Horner says Daniil Kvyat took time to deal with being ousted from his Red Bull Racing drive during the early stages of the 2016 season, with the Russian set for a Formula 1 return with a third tenure with Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in 2019.
Kvyat was dropped after just four races of the 2016 campaign in favour of Max Verstappen, with the Russian returning to Toro Rosso until he found himself dropped by them towards the end of 2017 as his form and confidence faded.
The Russian has spent 2018 in a development role at Scuderia Ferrari but will return to Formula 1 at Toro Rosso next year in place of the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing-bound Pierre Gasly, and Horner says he will return with a restored confidence and the desire to prove he deserves his place on the grid.
“I think it’s good news for Daniil,” said Horner to Motorsport.com. “Obviously it was a blow for him 12 months ago to lose the seat, but I think he’s had a chance away from F1 to reflect.
“You just sense an inner development within him, and I think he’s in a much better head space, because really he hadn’t fully dealt with 2016. I think he’s done a very good job for Ferrari, they’ve rated his work very highly, and it’s good for him to have a second shot in the Toro Rosso.
“Rejection for any driver is something very difficult to deal with. That was very tough for him, but he’s kept his head down, kept working hard at it, and been determined to get himself back into a seat.”
Horner is pleased that Kvyat is getting a ‘second coming’ in Formula 1 after being impressed by him during his time with Red Bull Racing, and there are no questions about his talent nor about whether or not he deserves his spot on the grid.
“In 2015 he was very strong,” said Horner. “The races that stand out, Montreal, Mexico in particular were very good races for him. But 2016 was a much tougher season for him.
“It’s a second coming for him. He’s still young, hungry, and a bit of time outside F1 gives an opportunity to reflect and rebuild and regroup.
“He’s still a very talented driver, he won the GP3 championship for me in 2013 with Carlos Sainz as his team-mate.
“He always kept a good relationship with Red Bull, he recognised that they gave him the opportunity, and he’s kept his head down during that year away.
“I’m sure he’ll perform well next year. He’s more experienced, but he’s still pretty young, he’s still in his early 20s, he’s just gained more life experience.”