Toro Rosso is upbeat coming into the Russian Grand Prix weekend, where home crowd favourite Daniil Kvyat will be hoping for a good result.
Kvyat’s memories at Sochi have been mixed however from the highs of finishing fifth in 2015 and qualifying on the front row the following year, to the lows of smashing into Sebastian Vettel on race day which sealed his demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso for the Spanish Grand Prix where his replacement Max Verstappen took his maiden win.
But on the anniversary of his return to Formula 1 after a spell as Ferrari’s test driver, Kvyat is ready to go for what he thinks will be a tough race.
“As you can imagine I am very happy to be racing here in Russia, where I always have plenty of support from the fans. It makes for a very cool atmosphere in Sochi and the track itself can usually provide some good racing with its long straights. I think it’s going to be an interesting weekend for us. I plan to really enjoy my home race,” said Kvyat.
In the run-up to the Russian Grand Prix, Kvyat has done promotion work for Red Bull Russia in St Petersburg where he signed autographs for his adoring fans.
“A few weeks ago, I was in St. Petersburg to promote the Grand Prix, which was a very enjoyable experience. I was surprised at how many people were there thanks to the efforts of Red Bull Russia. I think this year’s race could be quite tough but, as always, I will be giving it my best shot for myself, the team and of course all the home fans.”
For Pierre Gasly, Sochi will be vital in his hopes of regaining his drive for Red Bull Racing next season after being demoted in the summer break.
The Frenchman who scored points last time in Singapore with an eighth-place finish will be hoping to better then last year when Gasly and then-teammate Brendon Hartley went out early as brake problems ended Toro Rosso’s race on lap four.
“Before I was in Formula 1, I raced in Sochi in GP2 and finished second behind Alexander Rossi and ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, but the year I won the GP2 Championship, the series did not go to Russia said Gasly. Last year with Toro Rosso, we had a bit of a complicated weekend with failures for myself and Brendon (Hartley) at the same point during the race. However, the circuit has plenty of good points, even if a lot of the corners are very similar 90 degree turns, taken at the same sort of speed,” said Gasly.
Gasly believes that the key to a good result at Sochi is the car being setup correctly in order for it to content with the mixture of tight twisty corners and long fast swooping left and right handers.
“The key is to have a car well set up for these types of corners because if it works well here, there’s a good chance it will work well in the rest of the track too. For me, this will be my fourth race back with the team and so it will be an important weekend.”